RAGUSA, DONNAFUGATA, CAMARINA,
SCOGLITTI , M. DI RAGUSA
out from Ragusa, you head towards Santa Croce Camerina
and, after about 20 km, come to the Castle of Donnafugata.
It is a magnificent setting - and for good reason has
been used often in films. The castle takes its name
from the Arab name of a town that dates back to the
year 1000, which sounded like "fonte della salute"
("source of health"), later transformed, through
local dialect, into "Ronnafuata" and "Donnafuata".
The current form of the castle, or residential villa,
dates back to the late 1800s. Originally built by Corrado
Arezzo, Baron of Donnafugata, it has undergone various
changes over the centuries and has no single well-defined
architectural style. The large terrace on the facade
and the two round towers are flanked by small, late-Renaissance
loggias and by the Venetian-Gothic-style "loggetta"
added in the early 1900s. Of the 122 rooms in total,
are open to the public (by prior request made to the
Ragusa town council offices) are all situated on the
first floor, though they are enough to create a particularly
grand and lavish atmosphere. The castle is surrounded
by eight hectares of park land, which also contain the
so-called "coffee-house" (a neoclassical building),
a labyrinth, artificial caves, and a number of curious,
unusual mechanisms, or 'scherzi", hidden there
to provide entertaining diversions for the Baron's guests.
We next head towards the coast, to visit the ruins at
Camarina. The city, settled by the Syracusans in 598
B.C., was destroyed several times in its vain attempts
to gain independence, and was definitively plundered
by the Romans in 258 B.C. Little remains of the ancient
city, which once was spread across three hills (the
largest being Cammarana) near the mouth of the Ippari
river: only parts of the original town walls and a large
tower. There are some interesting ruins of Hellenistic
houses: the "House of the Altar", so-named
because of the altar found in the middle of the courtyard;
the "House of the Inscription", and the "House
of the Merchant", where a number of weights and
scales were found. Visitors today can also observe the
ruins of the walls that ringed the Athenaion, the temple
to Athena that dates back to the 5th century iiuii ~bul
or Hec1UPON, su(;1 I as the ones at Passo Marinaro and
Randello. The artifacts found in the area are displayed
in the Archeological Museum of Ragusa and Syracuse.
In Cammarana, there is an Antiquarium,
which displays artifacts from the surrounding area.
All of these findings have made possible the reconstruction
of the city's layout, which must have been one of the
most splendid examples of 4th-century B.C. urban planning.
Heading north from Camarina along the coast, we can
admire Scoglitti and its well-tended beaches. Continuing
on as far as the mouth of the Acate river, on the provincial
border, you really must see the "macconi",
or high sand dunes. These "hills" are home
to flourishing "retana", a type of broom with
white flowers and strong scent that also grows on the
Leaving the Camarina necropoli, we next head to Santa
Croce Camerina, an agricultural and horticultural centre.
Your first stop should be the 13th-century Mother Church,
which was renovated in the 1700s. The trinave interior
contains a copy of Caravaggio's Madonna of Loreto and
a statue of St. Joseph. Beside the church is the liberty-style
Palazzo Pace, while the nearby village of Mezzagnone
boasts ancient buildings such as "u vagnu",
built of limestone between the 4th and 6th centuries,
with a cross-shaped layout. Continuing on towards Pozzallo,
we can stop at Caucana, situated between Punta Secca
and Casuzze, to visit the interesting excavations which
make up the recently-established
Caucana Archeological Park.
This whole coastal area is of great archeological interest,
which has been the stimulus to a fastgrowing tourist
industry that now boasts good new recreational facilities.
Keeping along the coast, we now head south towards Scicli
until we come to Marina di Ragusa, once an important
centre for the exporting of asphalt stone and carobs,
now a popular seaside resort with excellent recreational
facilities. Its original name, Mazzarelli, "little
port" in Arab, was changed to the current one in
1928. To visit, there is a 16th-century Tower, which
the Cabrera family had built and which has been partially
restored in modern style.