ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF KAMARINA AND CAVA DI ISPICA (Ragusa)
Would you like to discover ancient foundations, stroll through unspoilt nature and enjoy the beautiful African coastline? Welcome to the Kamarina and Cava d’Ispica Archaeological Park.
Kamarina name, according to Strabo, means ” inhabited after a lot of effort “. The city was founded at the beginning of the 6th century BC (598 BC) by the ancient Doric Syracusan Greeks. Today only ruins and remarkable archaeological finds remain. Mainly, they are set on the Cammarana hill in the Ragusa district (on the coast, near Scoglitti). Here, under the same name Contrada, there is the Regional Museum of Camarina. It is in a rural building built at the end of the 19th century, on the top of the hill surrounding the Athena Temple. In the Museum, you can find a rich collection of commercial amphorae from the Archaic period, some fauna and prehistoric finds from the area, and some tombs reconstructions. Exiting over an enclosed space, you can access the last pavilion of the Museum, where the public area of the city is shown (the Agora of the 5th century BC). In the courtyard of the building, it is also possible to visit the temple of Athena remains (5th century BC). The stretch from the temple to the Agora offers a breathtaking view. Along the ancient road, you can see the foundations, the walls and the floors of the houses.
Remaining on the coast, a little further southbound, we find another site that is part of the Park: the archaeological area Caucana. It is an inhabited area from the Byzantine age, identified in the Anticaglie site (S. Croce Camerina). It is one of the rarely known villages dating from this period. You can admire 25 buildings of the settlement. They are distributed both along the sea – with amazing glimpses of the Mediterranean waters – and in the immediate hinterland. In addition to the ancient scattered houses, we can see a small church dating back to the 6th century BC, with three naves and a semicircular apse. Recent studies in building number XV have confirmed a phase of Vandal occupation and, in building number VI, the presence of an urban burial for a Holy woman.
Have you enjoyed enough the welcoming and sunny beaches of Ragusa? Now it is time to head towards the city of Ragusa and visit the Hyblean Archaeological Museum. The structure has six sections: prehistory, the Greeks and Kamarina, the indigenous, the Hellenistic centres, the late Roman and Byzantine centres, collections and purchases. A real journey through time
in this part of Sicily. Noteworthy is, in the section on indigenous sites, the limestone slab of the 6th century BC found in the internal territory of Camarina, known as the “Warrior of Castiglione“. Where is the ancient Castiglione? Just leave Ragusa for a few kilometers to get to the “Inhabited area and necropolis of Castiglione”. It is an indigenous village of the Archaic period (6th century BC), where the “ Siculi ” of the Camarina area lived. Only the foundations of some buildings and some typical cellar tombs remain.
You can now head towards the Archaeological Park of Cava d’Ispica. We have to pass by Modica and head towards Rosolini (without getting there). The Cava is a narrow valley that extends from N-W to S-E for about 14 km in the area around Modica, Ispica and partly, Rosolini (SR). We can walk a path immersed in the wildest nature (if you love trekking, this is the real deal). In the eighteenth century, this area, thanks to extensive medieval rocky settlements and lush vegetation, already was the destination of the Grand Tour. Today you can still visit some cave villages ((le Grotte Cadute), rocky churches (S. Maria, S.Nicola, Spezieria) and the rocky necropolis dating back to the Byzantine age (Catacombe della Larderia). There is also no shortage of more ancient monuments, such as a Hellenistic gymnasium and a monumental tomb from the prehistoric age. At the end of the Cava Ispica, southbound, you can find the Forza spur, known as Parco Forza, in Ispica. It is a natural fortress, inhabited from the Ancient Bronze Age until the Greek colonization. The fortress was reoccupied only in 1169 and was part of the town of Spaccaforno fortress. The fortress was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. This natural phenomenon shocked the whole Val di Noto, and the city was transferred to the opposite side, giving life to the current Ispica. Still, in time, the ancient city inhabits the fortress, with the church of S. Pietro, which the Statella family enlarged and dedicated to the SS. Annunziata; or the Palazzo Marchionale, which you can enter by crossing a squared courtyard; or the 250 m long tunnel, called Centoscale. It allowed the inhabitants to descend deep down to the stream for water supply.
We are about to end our trip. Before leaving, be sure to visit the sites of Villa Rustica Margi, in Giarratana (foundations of a small rustic settlement of the Roman age) and the Sicilian town of Monte Casasia, on the upper bank of the Dirillo river (the ancient Acathes), near Monterosso Almo (RG).