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History and legends

The legend tells that Ulysses landed in the territory of Ibla too; in Marina di Ispica , in that place which is called today Porto Ulisse (Ulysses' harbour). The great Hercules, instead, with his liberating hands skimmed over the proudest Greek colony in Sicily, the town of Kamarina which reproduces his image in the coins of that age. That is the charm of the myth. But the history of the province of Ragusa is deeply rooted in the mists of time. The first prehistoric settlements dating back to sixty thousand years ago, testified by the findings in the caves of Fontana Nuova, suggest us that this island inside the island must have been similar to a wide forest of holm-oaks, oaks and Mediterranean vegetation.; it was full of even big animals and as the myth puts it populated by Lotus-Eaters and Feaci.

Then three thousand three hundred years ago, the "Siculi" the most ancient population after which Sicily is named, created the fortified towns of Motyche and Hybla Heraia, presently Modica and Ragusa , Sicli and Geretanum , today called Scicli and Giarratana. But the real history of Sicily starts with the Greek colonisation, and the foundation of Kamarina is fully entitled to be the milestone of the archaic history of Ibla; the Corinthian town was built and desVaso anticotroyed several times because of its rebellion against Syracuse in the name of freedom to which the town sacrificed human lives. Kamarina was dedicated to Athena Ergane the Goddess who protected women's work and who had the honour of a temple dedicated to her.

When Sicily became a roman province Ragusa and Modica were classified as "decuman" that is forced to pay to Rome the tenth part of the harvest. Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, and Angevins are the populations which after the Romans left their traces in this land whose traditions became extraordinary mixtures of culture. From the Arabs the people from Ibla inherited new techniques and cultivation and with the Normands they consolidated Feudalism, but in spite of all these dominations they managed to preserve their integrity and the harmony of their customs until their rebirth with the Chiaramonte family dinasty with a common civil awareness. The marriage between the Earl of Ragusa Manfredi Chiaramonte and Isabella Mosca, the Earl of Modica's sister, was the final event which determined this unity. -This wedding allowed the unification of the two counties.Raffaele Solarino, the historian from Ibla, wrote about them: "Big they were not, but powerful and splendid". Though their being adventurers and even unscrupulous people loved the Chiaramonte's stock; they were said to be the descendents of the great Emperor of France, Charlemagne, the opponent of Orlando Furioso. The Sicilian art of the fourteenth century was named after them.

In 1392 the Cabrera succeeded the Chiaramonte, they were faithful to the Royal family in Sicily and yet they were loved less by the people. One of them, Bernardo Cabrera, thought to break into pieces the large estates and to give the peasants small lands in emphyteusis. The legend depicts Bernardo as a stubborn man who after the refusal of Bianca di Navarra to marry him, decided to follow her all over the island. He died of plague and today according to his will, he still rests in the church of St. Giorgio. Anna was the last heiress of the Cabrera's. She married a nobleman from the Enriquez family, the same family which ruled the County until the eighteenth century. In the seventeenth century two big events marked the destiny of the County. The first one, the foundation of Vittoria, had a positive influence on the future economic development of the whole province. Beyond the conflicting theories on the reasons of its foundation, the choice of that name was a tribute to the Countess Vittoria Colonna. The second one, the terrible earthquake of 1693, was a destiny of death for the serious loss of human lives all over the county, but for the posterity it has been a glowing symbol of life too, in fact it led to a splendid recovery in the towns of Ragusa, Modica and in all the other lesser centers. That tragedy turned towns into heaps of rubble and caused five thousand victims, but it halso gave birth to an straordinary enthusiasm in building baroque mansions and churches in East Sicily. Baroque art also flourishes thanks to various forms of art patronage. The rebellion of nature once more upset the county to its foundation. Just like in the past, it became a land of conquest, while ruling dinasties alternated: from the Spanish it passed to the Savoia who managed to rule the county only for few years till the Bourbon regime settled itself in.

After the proclamation of the reign of the two Sicilies and Napoleon's defeat,Ferdinand of Bourbon, in 1816 divided Sicily into seven provinces, the county was incorporated into the province of Syracuse. On may 11th 1860, the dawn of the Unity of Italy, the ragusan territory was annexed to the territory of Syracuse.

The local farmers, "massari", found in their untiring activity of land working the strength to overcome the post-bourbon crisis. During the years of the First World War, misery hit the people with all its consequences, and yet it rose again and from sorrow a positive change came out: the institution of the province of Ragusa in 1926. During the Second World War the fruits of the land, oranges and carobs saved rural population from starvation. As the masses woke up, social clashes increased, though as years passed by, the same masses recovered the unity of the civil awareness which is so typical of the ancient county.

The history of the fifties is marked by a renewing movement and by the need to implement the agrarian reform, to distribute the land properties according to different standards. The subdivion of the estates, the new methods of cultivation, the discovery of the first oilfield in 1951, the phenomenon of urbanization with people moving from the country to the towns will create the present appearance of the Hyblaean province. A land where traditions and innovations, art and company dynamism live in total harmony and magical alternation.

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Witnesses of memory


of 1693


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