Back in May this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to this stunning part of Sicily with my mother. We were on one of our breaks away again and staying in the seaside resort of Marina Di Regusa which is situated in the south east area of Sicily known as Modica region. This in itself is a beautiful area with a spectacular marina and sea views to die for.
We decided to venture out one day further afield on public transport. I drive all the time at home so I don’t mind the change to be honest and I can take in some of the scenery 😊. We checked the local areas and a information in the hotel and plumped for a visit to Regusa Ibla which was only about half hour bus ride from where we were based. It was very reasonably priced as well at approximately 5 Euros for a return bus ticket, even better. The bus journey was indeed a good way to take in all the local scenery with all the farmland and hills in the distance, as well as an abundance of wild flowers and cacti.
As the bus got nearer to Regusa Ibla the roads became more winding and we started to descend a dramatic hillside. The view was breathtaking, a real look back to past times in Sicily. The origins of Regusa Ibla can be traced back to 2nd millennium BC when there were several sicel settlements in the area (Italian tribes from the Iron Age).
The ancient city was based up the 300 metre high hill and grew in size after contact with Greek colonies. This was helped by the close proximity of the port of Camerina. Thereafter it was ruled by the Carthaginians, ancient Romans and Byzantines who fortified the city and built a castle. Regusa was then under Arab occupation from 848 AD until 11th century when the Normans conquered. It was then a county seat making Count Geoffrey (son of the Count of Reggerio of Sicily) the first count.
It remained a county capital after it was unified with Modica in 1296 but lost this status in the 15th century due to an uprising.
Unfortunately in 1693, Regusa suffered a huge earthquake and 5,000 people lost their lives and many buildings were destroyed. However alot of the Baroque buildings survived this event. The city was then largely rebuilt with most of the population moving to a new settlement formally known as Patro but renamed ‘Regusa Superiore’ (upper Regusa) and the ancient city ‘Regusa Inferiore’ (lower Regusa). These two cities were separated until 1926 when they were joined in 1927 to form a provincial city. This was at the expense of Modica, which was the former most important city in the area since 1296. I think from the pictures you can get a sense of the importance of the area which is nestled beneath the Hyblean mountains. Quite spectacular!
On arrival at our destination and after marvelling at the views, we then had to climb a number of steps to reach Regusa Ibla and the Piazza Repubblica, also known as Piazza degli Archi. From here we could see the Valle di Ponti, a deep ravine which separates Regusa Ibla and Regusa Superiore. The first Baroque style building that I noticed in the centre was the Church of Santissme Anime del Purgatorio which survived the 1693 earthquake. It was built in the second half of the 17th century and dedicated to All Saints and Souls in Purgatory. The church stands at the top of a beautiful staircase which adds to the prospectus. It is a late style Baroque style building with basillica and 3 naves. The Bell Tower, which is separate from the church, was built in the first quarter of the 18th century. This is an example of one of the many churches in the region, so if you like to visit churches it would be a real treat for you 😊
The best way to see most of the churches is via the little train which goes from Duomo Di San Georgio (one of the main attractions). Unfortunately this is situated quite high up in Regusa so we didn’t make it as mum isn’t overly steady on her feet now. It is a pity that it doesn’t go from the Piazza Repubblica area for those who have walking difficulties. This said we had a pleasant time wandering around the streets and admiring the many Baroque style buildings and the surrounding countryside. Mum was also pleased as she quite a fan of Inspector Montalbano, a series about an Italian detective who works in and around the fictional town in Vigata. The series was largely filmed in Regusa and the surrounding areas. It made mum’s day 😊
Also at the moment (between July and September), the area is enjoying the Estate Iblea, a summer festival of music and events around Regusa. In October there is another festival of busking and street entertainment called Ibla Busker’s. There are also events at Easter and St. George’s Day processions. Lots to see and do.
After our little wander round the streets we decided that a spot of lunch was in order. We plumped for a little place called Agli Archi trattoria which overlooked the Piazza Repubblica area. The waiter was a very nice young Italian man who kindly talked us through the specials board. It all sounded abit fancy really – I’m quite happy with a nice salad or even beans on toast, but as we were on holiday we decided to have a treat 😊.
Mum decided on veal cooked in chocolate and orange, which she said worked well and it all went. I had shrimp spaghetti with tuna caviare, which was delicious. This was accompanied by a local ale called Yblon which was quite strong but very tasty – superb !
We teetered out of here pleasantly full and ready for another look round before catching our bus back to our resort.
Yet more happy memories made with mum on another very pleasant day out 😊.
In memory of Andrea Calogero Camilleri (Italian writer) 6/9/25 – 17/7/19.