RAGUSA IBLA – BRIEF HISTORY
The history of Ibla – is known as the historical area in the centre of Ragusa – who’s ancient clues can be found within the more recent elegant baroque buildings.
The original villages were populated by the inhabitants known as the Siculi; who were influenced by the Greek and Roman people devoted to goddess Hybla and rose to importance during the Byzantine period. The town was armed stronghold at that time.
The area, well known for the huge production of grain, was occupied by the Arabs in 848 and remained under their domination for at least two and a half centuries.
After the Norman conquest, Ibla was given as a feud to count Ruggero and later to his son Goffredo. Their descendants kept Ibla up until the Swabian domination.
During the feudal period of Chiaramonte counts, Ibla was later reunited with the “Contea di Modica” (Modica’s county) and got the protection of Chiaramonte and Enriquez counts.
Since 1452, lands started to be granted by a particular kind of juridical formula, the emphyteusis, which characterized the entire later history of the Modica’s county.
Thanks to emphyteusis a new form of middle-class landlords arose. Some of them later gained titles and created a new minor aristocracy. This then adorned Ibla through time, building the beautiful baroque palaces which still fascinate the numerous visitors.
During its history, Ibla experienced also fights, pestilences, famines and natural disasters, like the terrible earthquake in date 11th January 1693 that destroyed lots of cities in the South-East of Sicily and caused about 5000 deaths in the sole Ibla.
The following rebuilding happened mostly onto the plateaus on the West and South sides of Ibla, where the expanding plantations were in the meantime strengthening the interests of a new and powerful class of nesters. That’s how the typical farms (called “Masserie” by the locals) arose on the plateaus (“Altipiani”) . The Masserie are today the distinguishing nucleus of the peculiar wine and food farmers culture of the Ragusa’s area.
The rebuilt Ibla and the new expanding Ragusa were rivals and had separate administrative bodies for lots of years until their reunion in 1926, when Ragusa became the seat of the homonymous province.