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What is the meaning of Iblean?

Life in a rocky landscape: on a discovery of South East Sicily

The Hyblean mountains, amidst quarries, Sicilian Baroque and ancient ‘masserie’.

 

The upturned stone

 

The Hyblean landscape extends throughout south eastern Sicily, its mountain range defining this part of the territory in a unique way. The rock that makes up this mountainous mass, of which the uppermost peak is Mount Lauro (986 m) boasts ancient, volcanic origins. Sandstone and basalt flows developed to create singular landscapes, characterised by the Cave: real canyons carved through time by water, which is plentiful in this region, allowing for the creation of original natural oases. From Ragusa you can easily reach > Cava Misericordia, among the most picturesque canyons. For trekking fans the hike from the Hyblean plateau that leads to the spellbinding UNESCO site of Ragusa Ibla is a ‘must-do’. A walk exploring the “Hyblean paradise”, with its botanical and geological marvels and breathtaking panoramas.

At Cava d’Ispica you can also explore the remains of ancient Neolithic tombs, used as stables and dwellings in more recent times, an itinerary where nature and archaeology come together. The men and women of these regions are conscious of how their history is connected to the rock that surrounds them, where the towns stretch from the low-lying cava all the way up to the crest.

 

We’re among the few who walk downhill to go to the mountains.

Simona Sciortino – Tourist Guide

 

> Cava Misericordia: at the Villa we’ll be at your disposal to advise as to the safest trails and expert guides for exploring the beauties of the Hyblean mountains.

>Cava d’ispica – Combine Nature with Cuisine, come and discover l’Aperitrek, the hike for those who wish to discover the area in a dynamic, savoury and original way. Expert guides will lead you along a walk through the natural quarries, blending archeology with local cuisine. 

 

The propitious stone

 

The landscape surrounding the towns of Ragusa, Modica or Scicli is unyielding, with its steep climbs and descents, but for its local inhabitants this has never been an impediment to their development. On the contrary, you could say that it has been the stimulus for an ingenuity that has evolved into a profound knowledge of stone. Generations of stonemasons have succeeded each other over the centuries to created the Baroque wonders still an integral element of a cultural itinerary for millions.. The > Duomo of San Giorgio, the > ornate balconies of the ancient aristocratic palaces of Ibla, such as Palazzo Cosentini and Palazzo La Rocca, are just a few examples of the infinite wonders to be admired in the region. Stone, which in the hands of the Hybleans was transformed into a Baroque aesthetic, is also a characteristic element of the Ragusan countryside. A vast and intricate web of white > dry-stone walls still runs through the valleys, marking out pastures, olive groves, citrus groves, carob trees, almond trees and vineyards. A great way to view the Hyblean landscape is to take the road that leads to the Castello di Donnafugata, residence of the eccentric baron , where stone takes on whimsical forms, transporting the visitor on an esoteric journey both inside the palazzo and across its grounds. Stone is a friend, a tool that generates wealth and spawns life.

 

Hyblean adj. [from the Latin. Hyblaeus, Greek. ῾Υβλαῖος]. – From the ancient city of Ibla, in Sicily, and the mountain range that takes its name (Hyblean Mountains; a region known in ancient times for its abundance of flora and bees who fed off the; hence, in poetic language, Hyblean honey, the honey produced by the Hyblean bees, by definition excellent, sweet honey.  Fonte: Treccani

 

> Dry-stone walls: The traditional craft of dry-stone walls have been declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This ancient practice has made the Ragusan countryside one of the most fascinating areas of the Hyblean region. 

> Duomo di San Giorgio, ornate balconies: If you decide to stay at the Villa, you can take part in one of our exploration experiences alongside our expert guide Simona. Together, you can discover Ragusa in an urban hike, visit Modica or one of the excellent wineries in the region. 

> Donnafugata Castle: a scenic drive through the hyblean countryside will take you to Donnagufata. You might notice some similarities between the castle and the villa, two great examples of neo-gothic architecture.

 

 

The constancy of stone

 

The inhabitants of this lush and unyielding landscape are more than aware of how the balance of nature hangs delicately in the Hyblean region. You could say that stone itself has taught people the value of slowness. Thus bread is made to keep for a long time, tasty and fragrant, as are the scacce, typical local stuffed focaccias; you can still find >traditional farms or masserie that produce oil, ricotta and cheese, respecting the cycle of plants and livestock. In summer there is time to go down to the sea for a refreshing dip and the days simply flow by, amid the heady scent of flowers of the Mediterranean scrub.



> Ragusan bread & Scacce: at the Villa you will be able to taste some of the local delicacies at breakfast. Delicious freshly-baked bread, almond milk, cheeses and hams, all organic and locally-produced. 

> traditional masserie: If Ragusan enogastronomy is your thing, book a tour of the Cantina Valle dell’Acate winery and the Frantoi Gulino olive oil mill accompanied by our guides.

 

Credits: @experiencesicily, @luanabaglieri, @mircoinviaggioconte, @monti_iblei, @nannidifalco

DIARY

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