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FORTEZZA BRUNO: 1200 Years of history

SICILY: A land to explore.

The surroundings of Ispica


"Ispica or Spaccafurnu in Sicilian" is located on the hill "Colle Calandra" at an altitude of 170 m s.l.m. The coast is 7 km away. Its territory has an altitude ranging from 0 m s.l.m. at 309 m s.l.m.
The etymology of the name Ispica is uncertain, for some it derives from the Latin gypsum "lime" or from the Greek phrase gupsike kaminos "hot furnace", which would reconnect to the toponym "Spaccaforno".
The Sicilian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine dominations succeeded one another in the territory. Arab Muslims and Berbers dominated the region from the 9th to the 11th century. The Saracen domination ended when all the south-eastern Sicily was liberated by Normans led by Roger the Norman. The first document that mentions the village with the name of Isbacha was in 1093, in a bull that Pope Urban II emanated immediately after the end of the Arab occupation of the region.
On the 11th of January 1693 at 13.30 Ispica was hit by a violent earthquake which, together with the earthquake of 1908, is the major catastrophic event that has struck Sicily. The earthquake razed the entire town, which previously stretched for the most part inside the Cava Ispica. The Fortilitium (medieval castle of the Statella family) was destroyed and numerous churches were no longer rebuilt.
The city was rebuilt in the flat area outside the quarry, but the ancient settlement was never completely abandoned.
Some neighborhoods were rebuilt around the damaged churches still standing in San Antonio and Carmine, while others were rebuilt from scratch according to the route of two engineers who arrived from Palermo with Don Blasco Maria Statella.
The new Spaccaforno brought about the birth of baroque beauties such as Santa Maria Maggiore, the Church of San Bartolomeo and the S.S. Annunziata to which were added the liberty beauties of Palazzo Bruno of the architect Gagliardi and Palazzo Bruno di Belmonte of the architect Basile.
From 1812 the city was incorporated in the Modica district and in the province of Syracuse, from which it was given in 1927 to the new province of Ragusa.
The current city includes an area of ​​eighteenth-century plant, posterior to the the earthquake, with wide, checkerboard styled roads and a medieval layout with irregular paths. The latter is adjacent to a cliff where there are the ruins of the ancient castle of the Lords Statella and the ancient city of Spaccaforno. .

Ancient productions

The sesame of Ispica.
Ispica preserves a very particular and ancient production, introduced in Sicily at the time of the Arab domination, that of the sesame.
The Istrian variety was selected two centuries ago by the farmers of the area and has small seeds, amber color and intense flavor.
Up to fifty years ago in Sicily about 450 hectares were destined for sesame in Sicily, 400 of which in the province of Ragusa, in particular in the Ispica area in the southeast of the island.
This area in fact, once, was rich in marshy lands that, in the spring months, dried up keeping the perfect humidity for sowing, without the need for irrigation.
Over the years the production has dropped dramatically due to the very laborious collection and the strong competition of imported products.


Located on a plateau overlooking the Asinaro valley, it’s a small jewel of Sicilian baroque.
An important Sicilian, Roman, Byzantine and then Arab center, it was destroyed in its full splendor by the 1693 earthquake.
With the reconstruction by great architects, Noto has become a magnificent city of art, Unesco heritage.
The medieval city, of which traces of the walls and the castle are visible, corresponds to the ancient Neto. The structure of the new city is the baroque one, based on wide and straight streets interspersed with squares with staircases overlooking churches and palaces.
Three are the main squares: Piazza dell'Immacolata with the homonymous church; Piazza del Municipio, surrounded by four buildings: the town hall, the church of the Santissimo Salvatore (1791-1801), the bishop's palace and the splendid cathedral of San Nicolò (1771), which dominates from the top of a spectacular staircase. In piazza XVI Maggio there are instead the church of S. Domenico (1727), with a curvilinear façade, and the Dominican convent with a beautiful ashlar portal. In the Church of the Crucifix there is a statue of the Madonna della Neve sculpted by the sculptor Francesco Laurana in 1471.


Modica is located between two rivers in the province of Ragusa and is famous not only for its artistic treasures but also for an ancient tradition of confectionery.
Included in 2002 with the Val di Noto in the UNESCO World Heritage List for its historic center full of baroque architecture, Modica is known worldwide for its chocolate. Modica chocolate has very ancient origins and finds its origin in the Spanish domination of Sicily, when the occupants introduced its processing in the "Contea di Modica", once the largest of the Kingdom of Sicily.
Contrary to what happens in the rest of the world, chocolate produced in Modica has never gone to industrial processing, preserving over the centuries an authentic flavor based on the purity of the ingredients and the craftsmanship of its processing, thus deserving the designation of IGP product (Protected Geographical Indication). Modica chocolate is still made today as the Aztecs in ancient Mexico did, with a processing that leaves unchanged the organoleptic characteristics of cocoa. Definitely worth a try !!!

Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla

Ragusa, the "city of bridges".
The name is due to the presence of three bridges, of historical value.
Not only it’s the city of bridges but also "the island in the island" or "the other Sicily" as defined by writers, artists and economists thanks to its history and to the socio-economic context, very different from the rest of the island .
In 1693 it was affected by a devastating earthquake that caused its almost total destruction, reaping more than five thousand victims. The reconstruction, which occurred in the 18th century, divided the Hyblaean capital into two large districts: on one side Ragusa Superiore, situated on the plateau, on the other Ragusa Ibla, built from the ruins of the ancient city and rebuilt according to the ancient medieval structure.
The architectural masterpieces built after the earthquake, together with all those present in the Val di Noto, have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002. Ragusa is one of the most important places for the presence of evidence of Baroque art, such as its churches and its eighteenth-century palaces.


The monumental baroque city, was awarded in 2002 with UNESCO World Heritage status. With its suggestive forms, it’s the location of a living nativity scene.
According to Elio Vittorini in his unfinished novel “The cities of the world”: "The city of Scicli stands at the crossroads of three valleys, with houses all over the cliffs, a large square at the bottom, and ancient ecclesiastical buildings that crown in several points, like baroque acropolis, the semicircle of the altitudes ... "
Its municipal territory extends from the sea to the southern reaches of the Hyblean tableland.
The landscapes are very varied: you go from the coast, covered by the Mediterranean vegetation, to the sweet slopes of alluvial origin of the hinterland with olive, almond and carob trees up to the calcareous hills of the northern and internal part where the capital is located.

"The Bruno Fortress and the "Area of Montalbano ”

Fortezza Bruno is in a central position to discover the locations (Vigata, Marinella, Montelusa, La Mannara) of the literary work "Il Commissario Montalbano" by the writer Andrea Camilleri and recreated by the director Alberto Sironi and the scenographer Luciano Ricceri in the Iblea province.
Ragusa, Scicli, Modica, Comiso, Vittoria, Ispica and Santa Croce Camerina are the Municipalities that, together with many private residences, have enriched, with their indisputable architectural beauty, the scenography of the 20 episodes of the television series offering viewers a concentration of flavors and traditions typical of a lesser-known Sicily, that of the Bruno Fortress.


Probably the largest canyon in Europe, rich in vegetation both of ancient anthropic origins (agriculture was practiced there), and of a riparian, arboreal and shrub-like nature.
The Anapo river has formed the deep gorges that characterize the area and along which, in prehistoric times, ancient populations made it a village and a necropolis. There are many paths that can be traveled from west to east from the lower part, close to the river, to the upper part where interesting archaeological remains can be found.
One of the most common and easy to walk is that which follows, in large part, the route of the old Vizzini-Syracuse railway, which has been in disuse for years. If you wish, you can climb up to the upper part of the reserve up to the Annaktoron, which represented the residence area of the prince of duty, through the Necropolis of Filiporto and the small rock chapels.


The nature reserve "Oasis Faunistica di Vendicari" was established in 1984 by the Sicilian Region. It is located between Noto and Pachino (province of Syracuse) with a territory that covers about 1512 hectares.
Inside the reserve, an entire ecosystem lives undisturbed.
Frequently you will find yourself in front of breathtaking landscapes, thick vegetation that suddenly opens up to a crystalline sea, to long and golden beaches, which in a few hundred meters become rocks overhanging a deep sea.
From the observation huts you can admire Flamingos, Herons, Storks that stop here before reaching the final migratory destinations.
Do not miss the ancient tonnara of Arab origin inside the oasis.
The tonnara di Vendicari, also known as Bafutu, or in the past of the “Cape Bojuto”, was a “return tonnara”, that is, a Tonnara that fished tuna when it returned to the open sea after the mating season.
Actual facts of the tonnara of Vendicari or Bajuto can only be found from the 1600s, when a process of liquidation and privatization of the royal estate takes place on the island, in order to replenish the coffers of the state, including tuna.
The impressive Sveva Tower was used as a lookout and signal against the raids of pirate ships and possible enemy attacks. Not far from the Swabian tower, on the seashore, there are some tanks for tuna processing and the production of garum, a sign of a continuity of tradition in the following centuries through the development of a nearby tonnara.


It’s the seaside village of the municipality of Pachino from which it is about 2 km distant.
It is located in the province of Syracuse. The origin of the name Marzamemi is controversial: according to some it derives from the Arabic words marza ('porto', 'rada', 'baia') and memi ('small'), while according to the glottologist netino Corrado Avolio, the toponym derives from Arabic marsà 'al hamam, that is' bay of the turtledoves', "for the abundance of these birds, in spring".
The village was born around the landing, then became a fishing port, and has developed thanks to this last activity, still practiced today, also endowing itself with a Tonnara, one of the most important in Sicily.
The tonnara of Marzamemi dates back to the time of the domination of the Arabs in Sicily.
Over time, around the ancient tonnara the palace was built, the church of the tonnara and the sailors' houses. In 1912 a tuna processing plant was built in Marzamemi, followed by tuna in oil. The fishing of the tonnara was abundant until after the war.