Also known as the ‘Grand Dame’, be aware that this lovely town is split in two – Ragusa Ibla (the historical part of the city, and clearly our focus) and Ragusa Superior (the new town, which we just visited for its ‘pescharia’ – fish shop).
Also be prepared to walk up hill (or up steps) – a lot – though you can actually drive to the top and park there (we only found this out after our vigorous exercise on our first visit). Most of Ragusa Ibla is quiet, the locals only come out after around 6pm, and the few tourists here tend to flock around the Duomo square. The rest of the town is yours to explore at leisure.
Aperitivo is a must at I Banchi, down a quiet side street, with tables outside under the shade of white flowered trees. They’ll bring you a selection of Sicilian nibbles, and some great wines as well. It is in fact a panificio (possibly my favourite Italian word) – a bakery – but also has an excellent restaurant (it is owned by the famous Michelin star chef Ciccio Sultano). Apart from I Banchi there are plenty of other terraces to enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine, but none which really jumped out.
I highly recommend an ice cream at Gelati DiVini (the chilli chocolate was especially exceptional), and they also sell some good wine here too (the SP68 wine is a good, affordable option). Another place for excellent ice cream and canolo is Pasticceria Giovanni di Pasquale.
For more ‘serious’ food, you’re spoilt for choice. Remarkably Ragusa has two of the best restaurants in Sicily. The Duomo (2 Michelin star, and Ciccio Sultano’s flagship restaurant) and the Locanda don Serafino (also two Michelin star) constantly compete with who’s got the best restaurant, I’d go for their lunch set menu (far more affordable than dinner, at EUR 45 for 4 courses). Many locals think the food is overpriced here, as generally the standard of food in most restaurants is very high. Still, these restaurants remain good value for Michelin star restaurants (especially compared to London restaurants). If you want something a little more moderately priced, I hear Monsu is meant to be excellent too.
Locando don Serafino also has a small boutique hotel (4 star) very close by, which is the best place to stay in town, quirky, comfortable and right in the centre of town. If you prefer to stay somewhere more rural, I’d recommend the beautiful Villa Carcara, just 10 minutes’ drive down the road. Sleeping up to 18 people, with stunning views, gardens and a large pool, this place will make most people very happy.
Read more about South East Sicily here.