Vittoria (25km from Ragusa; 60000 inhabitants; 168m a.s.l.; zip code 97019; area code 0932) can be reached through an amazing road making its way past beautiful vines and old water-mills. It is the youngest city of the Ragusa province as clearly shows its modern orthogonal plan.
The city, founded on 24 April 1607 in honour of the Countess Vittoria Colonna, stands on one of the largest plains in Sicily, known in ancient times as the Plaga Mesopotamica Sicula (Mesopotamia of Sicily), it also bathed by two rivers, the Dirillo and the Ippari.
The site of what is now Vittoria, however, has ancient roots, having been settled since Antiquity, by Early Christian and, then, Byzantine peoples. In the 17th century the whole area belonged to the Count of Modica Luigi III Henriquez Cabrera who married Vittoria Colonna. Upon his death, one of Vittoria’s personnel counsellors, a certain Ippolito Richetti, suggested the construction of a trading post in the area known as the Costa degli scoglitti (Little rocks’ Coast).
The Countess, who had both economical and political reasons to found a new village, appointed Paolo La Restia to explore the territory of Boscopiano (to-day’s Vittoria). He chose the area known as the Grotte Alte (High Grottos) as a best site for the new settlement, it being far enough from sea, but quite rich in water. Peasants willing to move in the newly-born village were granted grounds and privileges while criminals and debtors were promised amnesty.
The earthquake in 1693, destroying all the South-Eastern Sicily, did not provoked too damages here, excepted for collapses of the Castle and the Mother Church, where, forty children, there attending catechism, unfortunately, died. To-day’s Vittoria has achieved a remarkable importance, notably economic, also thanks to its people, keen on improving their city as best as they can.
From an economic point of view, Vittoria is likely the most prosperous town in the province of Ragusa, and among the wealthiest in all Sicily. The farming activities have taken advantage of the flat and fertile grounds of the area. Intensive, modern cultivation and the presence of an outstanding agricultural market have enormously contributed to the marketing of the products. The construction of a larger market has been now planned. Particularly important is the output of grape and must, used to produce the celebrated Cerasuolo di Vittoria and Villa Fontane wines. The flowers output is as much noteworthy, Vittoria being a major International exporter. Of recent, industry has also seen a notable development.
The tour begins with the central Piazza del Popolo, where are the Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie, dated 1754, and the Neoclassic Theatre. The latter has a beautiful façade on two tiers of columns. Inside, it has three orders of boxes, and a golden gallery decorated with frescoes.
The church has a baroque look, designed after Ragusa’s and Modica’s San Giorgio’s style. Inside it is simple but elegant, with fine altars and wooden sculptures. On Piazza Ferdinando Ricca rises the Chiesa di San Giovanni il Battista (Saint John the Baptist), with an impressive front elevation on three orders; inside, it has three naves ornamented with fine stuccoes, marbles and gildings.