Ragusa, Sicilian gem

On the largest island in the Mediterranean, Ragusa seems to have been preserved by time. In its maze of alleyways, the Locanda Don Serafino hotel occupies a former palace stable near the ramparts of the lower part of the city. Blogger Nathan Rollinson recounts his discovery of this place.

Ragusa, Sicilian gem

On the largest island in the Mediterranean, Ragusa seems to have been preserved by time. In its maze of alleyways, the Locanda Don Serafino hotel occupies a former palace stable near the ramparts of the lower part of the city. Blogger Nathan Rollinson recounts his discovery of this place.

Ragusa, in the south of the Hyblean Mountains, is the elegant capitalm of this region of Sicily, Italy. Following a devastating earthquake in 1693, some of the survivors settled on a hill to establish “Ragusa Superiore”. Others, however, stayed in the original location for the town and rebuilt Ragusa Ibla. Both have wonderful examples of Baroque palaces and churches, 18 of which are listed together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s worth allowing a whole day to wander these enchanting streets and to admire the rich architecture. Deep in the maze of Ragusa alleyways, Locanda Don Serafino is one of Sicily’s most beautiful hotels.

After a two-hour journey from Catania airport, it’s time to stretch my legs and to be greeted by the staff at Locanda Don Serafino, which is a part of the Relais & Chateaux family. The hotel itself looks rather idyllic, especially the bedroom, well-appointed with a mix of modern and traditional style. The luxurious bathroom has its own opulent bathtub, which I am very much looking forward to diving in later on. The bed is situated near the small Juliet balcony overlooking the rolling hills of Ragusa.

One of the most exciting elements of this property is the two-Michelin-starred restaurant – a charming, elegant spot in a delightful and most unusual setting (part of the restaurant occupies a cave!). The flavors of Sicily dominate the cuisine, which is both creative and imaginative. You are sure to find exactly the right wine from a range of more than 1000 wines and spirits and, if a good cigar is your idea of the perfect final touch, ask to see the cigar list from the excellent sommelier.

The La Rosa family proposes a match between culture of territoire and local flavors, a natural proposal to select the excellent raw materials that the head chef, Vincenzo, interprets with craftsmanship. My meal begins with a selection of delightful foods, creative in presentation and divine in taste. Let alone the pairing wine which is particularly delectable to me. Now I wonder how many more courses are yet to come?

If you are spending a night or two, I would recommend you try and visit some of the attractions in Ragusa. I had already heard a lot about the town and I was eager to explore. First stop was the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer (Vincenzo Ferreri). This Dominican church, by the entrance of Ibla Gardens, with its characteristic sundial on the facade, has an asymmetrically positioned bell tower topped with colorful mosaics. As I entered, I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting art exhibition, but I couldn’t linger for long as there was so much more I wanted to see.

The wealth of Baroque buildings is an intrinsic part of  this historic town, including this iconic St. George Cathedral, which is a must see. There’s many a hidden gem at every corner: the best way is to get lost in the maze and you will find real beauty in the heart of Ragusa.

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