Laid down on a hill at the feet of mountains covered with conifers and eucalyptus, Chiaramonte Gulfi is the symbol of the landscape of the province of Ragusa which is the smallest but also the most varied one in Sicily. The town, in a limited portion of territory offers this variety too. From the naturalistic routes through the mountains and particularly from the peak of the Arcibessi, an ancient place of Christianized rites still felt during the nineteenth century, you can see the Hyblaean plateau and into the distance the Ippari plain and the expanse of the age old olive trees, the Saracen olive trees which are the symbol of this land. Driving down the hairpin bends of the state road, before reaching the town we meet, in a pine wood, the first architectural work of art, the small XVI century church of the Madonna delle Grazie. It is a church with one nave , which preserves, in a limestone and black stone chapel inside the church, a marble statue of the Virgin by the sculptor Luca Maldotto. After the church the pine wood starts again to end just by the edge of the hill.
The baroque palaces, the courtyards in hard stone slabs, the alleys and the flights of steps of the town centre, the churches and the more recent buildings, the stone paved streets, move southwards to the plain and Eastward to the higher part of the hill.

The archaeological settlements

Prehistoric settlements dating back to the Bronze Age and to the Iron Age have been brought to light, scattered everywhere in the areas referred to as Aranci, Piano Conte, Piano Grillo, Casazze, Arcieri, Torre Mazzaronello, Marani, Pipitana. Necropolis, prehistoric settlements and Greek archaic built-up areas have been found.
In Sperlinga, Cifali and Arcibessi areas some Byzantine and medieval ruins have been found while in Fegotto and other localities there are some sites dating back to the Roman-Hellenistic age. But the most important archaeological site is the one in Scornavacche whose findings are held in the Archaeological Museum in Ragusa This nucleus too, shows a past full of destruction. The built up area developed all around the Dirillo river and was destroyed by the Punic populations in 406. It was then rebuilt by Timoleonte in the eastern plain but two centuries later was definitively destroyed . The peculiarity of this centre was the high number of kilns built and used to fire clay. It was probably the main economical activity for its inhabitants.

The History: Acrillae

The history of this town is marked by continuous rebuilding after destructive invasions of new rulers.
In the territory nearby Chiaramonte numerous archaeological findings revealing the existence of the ancient Acrillae have been discovered; it was a thriving Greek colony whose wealth was based on trade, also mentioned in the works of Livy and Plutarch . Acrillae was important for its strategic position along the line from Syracuse to Agrigento. One of the most famous experts in the history of this colony is Antonino Di Vita from Chiaramonte, member of the Accademia dei Lincei, and Chancellor of the Italian archaeological school in Athens. Acrillae was founded seventy years after Syracuse (like Kamarina it was founded by the Greek Syracusans ) and was destroyed by the Arabs who came to the island after the fall of the Roman Empire and the economic breakdown caused by the Byzantines. The Arabian caliph Asad Ibn Al Furat in 827 guided the Arabs into western Sicily to conquer the eastern part too and they named this town Gulfi which according to the etymology of their language meant delightful land, bed of roses and a place full of vegetation.
The growth brought by Arabs was supplanted by feudalism introduced by the Normans in 1070. The sanctuary of the Madonna di Gulfi is one of the most representative monuments, with its architectural modules and the pointed arch in the south aisle it is the most beautiful work of art left by the rulers of that age.

The present town

The present urban organisation dates back to the fourteenth century, after the Angevins destroyed the town in 1299; an event mentioned by the historian Solarino who wrote: "The simple memory makes people cry for anguish and horror". Though Chiaramonte had surrendered asking to spare the life of children and women, a squad of soldiers slaughtered the inhabitants leaving an unforgettable mark in the collective memory. The town was named after the Chiaramonte family. The Earl Manfredi I (who received the County of Modica by the King Frederick in 1296) belonging to a Norman family coming from the town of Clermont de l’Oise in Picardy, after the expulsion of the French wanted to rebuild the town on the rise, fortifying it with a castle. The fortress had three doors, one of which in the North-Western side, the portal of Annunziata, is still extraordinarily undamaged. Noble families rebuilt their mansions around the castle, while the people went to live in the lower part, in the present quarter of San Vito, refitting some natural stone caves. The earthquake of the end of the Seventeenth century destroyed the whole castle and the nearby mansions. In the heat of the reconstruction, the town followed the baroque model of the Val di Noto, preserving the old medieval plan and the grid of narrow streets while all the works of art which miraculously survived the earthquake were incorporated in the new town. The royal decree of 1881 ordered to add the name Gulfi in memory of the old town.