EXCURSIONS AND GUIDED TOURS
This section is dedicated to points of interest of different kind, and it’s aimed to provide suggestions and ideas for excursions and guided tours.
Lovers of trekking and hiking will have numerous chances for pleasant excursions around Ibla. Due to the orography of the territory, deep canyons (the so called “Cave”) interchange with plateaus and run to the sea following the flow of the rivers, mostly with torrential nature.
Among the minor (but not less interesting) ones, we can mention Cava Misericordia, Cava dei Servi, Scassale and Cava delle Povere Donne.
For guided excursion we suggest to contact specialized associations like C.A.I. (Club Alpino Italiano), SpeloClub Ibleo, Legambiente and Associazione Kalura.
To whoever is more interested in historical and cultural tours, we suggest to consider a visit to the Castello di Donnafugata (Donnafugata’s Castle), or to the archeological excavation area of Kamarina as well as to Trabacche Cave, Cisternazzi hypogeum and Cava Celone hypogeum.
About the last three, we suggest to contact the “Soprintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Ragusa” (it’s the authority superintending the local cultural heritage).
About opening time of the first two, you can instead have a look at the Ragusa Council website.
Some more details about locations of greater interest.
EXCURSIONS AND GUIDED TOURS
The Mouth of Irminio river was once upon a time navigable and considered by ancient historians as a safe landing.
It has been verified the presence of trading activities in the Greek period. Not only Greeks, but also Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs used the mouth as a landing station and a commercial hub.
The toponym of the near Maulli district (probably coming from the Arabian name Mahal , meaning “stopping place”) probably refers to this circumstance.
Up the Irminio river the first settlers get installed in the area where today one can find the old abandoned train station of Ibla.
Nowadays the Mouth is a Natural Reserve protected by the forest service and one can access the area both walking along the seashore from Marina di Ragusa (through Maulli district) and – in the same way – from Playa Grande. Alternatively, a car parking is available at the Corpo Forestale (forest service) premises along SS63 road (between Marina di Ragusa e Playa Grande): leaving the car and crossing the road it is possible to take one of the trails crossing the Natural Reserve.
We remember that it’s not allowed to leaving the trails to venturing the Mediterranean scrub. So to save the precious ecosystem of the scrub itself; this prohibition is extended both to the dunes and to their background.
Among the numerous botanical species that can be found here, one can quote the dwarf palm tree and several type of shrubs, like timo arbustivo, lentisco, tamerici, ginestre, finocchio marino and ginepro coccolone – this last here become unusually big due to the fact that some of these plants are centenarian. Between the sands, the eringio marino and the giglio di mare are free to grow. Lots of species of birds populate the riverbed: gallinelle d’acqua, aironi, folaghe, nitticore, cavalieri d’Italia, falchi di palude and others. Harmless reptiles like bisce, ramarri and the famous colubro leopardino are here present.
Among the mammals, we can quote rabbits, weasels, foxes, some wild boar and swimming coypus.
The necropolis of Pantalica is located in the Syracuse’s province and it is accessible both from the town of Ferla and from the town of Sortino. It is a site of great interest, both historical and naturalistic.
Here in fact the two deep canyions, excavated by the river Anapo and its tributary called Calcinara, merge into a naturally defended valley, where (since from the Bronze Age) Sicani people settled, looking for a safe place to shield themselves from the incursion of the new Indo-European invaders coming from the sea.
In the valley a city was built, probably later destroyed by armies of Syracuse before the 664 b.C. No evidences of that city are today in place, except for the unbelievable number of graves dug into the calcareous rock steep slopes. To have an idea of the effort spent, one should remember that the Iron technology wasn’t yet developed at that time.
Pantalica comes back to life with the Byzantines, who established some rocky hamlets; some people inhabited the valley also in the Arabic-Norman period, later the site was completely abandoned up to the earliest 20th century (when the archaeological excavations started).
Beside that, the site is a truely natural paradise where an enormous number of protected species find a shelter.
Talking about fish species, one can quote the Trota Fario (a kind of trout with a white-dots-spangled back), the rare and autochthonous Macrostigma, the Trota Siciliana (another kind of trout existing in very few places in Sicily and which here can find river little shrimps to eat).
Between reptiles, the rare Colubro di Riccioli (an harmless snake living in the country side of the island) and several species of tortoise.
Finally, among the birds it’s worth to mention the Bonelli eagle, the hoopoe, the marten and the swift; and among mammal, some wild cats.
We suggest the access to the valley from the side of Ferla, because it’s more simple to reach from Ibla, it offers a better sight of the necropolis and there’s the chance to park in a small service area at the end of SR 11 (37°08’21.9″N 15°01’57.9″E).
For more details, see the website http://www.pantalica.org/
Positioned between the territories of Ispica and Modica, Cava d’Ispica is one of the longest canyon of the area (about 8 miles) and it’s a site of both historical and naturalistic interest.
The first verified settlements happened during the Neolithic period. The caves scattered around the canyon are naturally formed and lately modified by human hands. The canyon is then scattered with troglodytes’ dwelling, small sanctuaries and catacombs.
The canyon is accessible from the side of Modica, starting from the premises of the Sovrintendenza ai Beni Culturali. From here one can reach points of interest like the Tomba a Finti Pilastri (“Grave with Fake Pillars”), the Grotta dei Santi (Saints’ cave), the Chiesa di S. Nicola (St. Nicholas’ church), the Larderia and Baravitalia, while other (like the Capraria and the Convento) are scattered elsewhere and not easy to find and to reach. For this reason, we suggest to join a guided tour.
The canyon is also accessible from Parco Forza in lspica; from here, one can visit the Vignale di San Giovanni and the chapel called Santa Maria la Cava. We suggest a guided tour also in this case.
Parco Forza is the most ancient settlement of the canyon, inhabited from the Neolythic period. During the Medieval period, the plateau dominating the canyon was fortified becoming a true citadel. Numbers can give an idea of the importance of the settlement: before the earthquake of 1693, 2000 people were lining in the citadel and other 5500 were living in the canyon.
For further information, contact the tourist office in Parco Forza (GPS: 36°47’22.9″N 14°54’42.1″E, land line +39 0932 951133) or the Soprintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Modica (GPS: 36°50’02.8″N 14°45’53.7″E , land line +39 0932 771667).
Casasia mounth is a high ground inside the Canalazzo wood, in the territory of Monterosso Almo. Today the area is part of a greater park, actually subject to a reforestation process.
The mountaintop has been manned by native people since the Iron Age, and lately hosted a Greek village. The site was abandoned in the fifth century and lately again inhabited during the High Mediaeval period because of defensive needs. In the latest centuries, the adjacent areas have been used for cultivation and pastoralism. The Soprintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Ragusa gave recently a great number of evidence back to the Monterosso Almo council. This last has prepared an exhibition in its premises. To contact the Monterosso Almo council, call +39 0932 970261
From the top one can enjoy the amazing sight of the Dirillo lake. On the East side, the Amerillo river flow; an easy access to this last is from the ancient mills way.
To reach the mountaintop, hit the SP99 road in direction of GPS coord. 37°06’41.4″N 14°42’26.6″E, park where the road is no more accessible by car and continue with a easy walking.
Lago Santa Rosalia (Santa Rosalia’s lake) is formed by a dam blockading the flow of the Irminio river. In spite of its artificial nature, the natural context is really suggestive, thanks to the surrounding hills completely covered by woods.
The jagged and plenty of bays banks are the ideal place for spinning style fishing (perch-trout, common trout, carp, etc.). A governmental fishing licence is however needed, as well as a specific card to mark the captured samples (if one wish to retain any of them). There’s a limit to allowed capture: 10 per day and no more than 30 per week.
The entire landscape is plenty of amazing glimpses, and the lake is about half way between the springs in Monte Lauro and the mouth.
The lake is preferred environment for lots of birds, like imperial crows, krestels, kites, quails, turtle doves, cuckoos, hopoes. It also became a favourite stop for some species of migratory birds which here can find a lot of food, e.g. a kind of plover called piviere tortolino during its migration from the nests in the Nordic Tundra to Africa.
Along the banks some partially flooded rural edifices are still visible.
To reach the lake from Ibla, drive on the SS194 road for about 10 miles in the direction of Giarratana.