Posts Tagged ‘Ragusa Ibla’

  • THE SICILIAN CONNECTION – Archaeotur Project

    A scene of Ragusa IblaThough many Maltese tend to perceive their archipelago as a solitary group of islands in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, the nearby island Sicily has always been closely present both geographically and often historically. The Archaeotur project aims to enhance the rediscovery of the archaeological and cultural identities of both islands, particularly by setting up a set of heritage trails which link a number of renowned sites together with other interesting locations that are presently found off the usual beaten tourist track.

    On crisp clear nights, some Sicilians search out for Malta’s twinkling lights across the separating sea known as the channel of Malta. Similarly during a fine limpid day, the area of Mount Etna is distinctly visible from Mdina. One may thus wonder how the ancient populations of these islands might have regarded this ‘nearness’ and what they might have shared. The Archaeotur project focuses on these similarities but also on the differences which vividly portray an affinity but no less a diversity between the two places, thereby enticingly creating a new world to discover just a few kilometres away.

    During the seminars at Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri in Ragusa IblaDuring last April, a group of Maltese experts in archaeology and in cultural tourism, together with a number of local university students, attended a three-day seminar that was held at the Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri in Ragusa Ibla. The Maltese and Sicilian counterparts discussed the plans of the Archaeotur project, gave detailed descriptions of some of the concerned archaeological sites and the findings discovered within, and shared information and ideas about what has been done so far and what work still needs to be tackled so that these sites are conserved and presented in the most professional way to all the visitors.

    Narrow alleys - Ragusa IblaResiding in a small hotel in Ragusa Ibla, the Maltese participants could indulge in the historical aura of the oldest part of this town. Narrow alleys with speeding motorini and compact vans running through them led to some impressive medieval buildings and baroque palaces. Interestingly much of this area had to be rebuilt after a very strong earthquake hit Ragusa on the 11th January 1693, killing about 5000 people and destroying many remarkable buildings such as a castle, palaces, churches, and many houses. After this catastrophe, some survivors in Ragusa wanted to rebuild the destroyed part of the town in the same place whilst others preferred to build their residences in another area, thereby creating two facets of this town which eventually became known as the old and the modern Ragusa. Three bridges which connect the older part to the new part of the town have inspired people to identify Ragusa as the city of bridges. These bridges provide a stunning view of this historical town, its buildings huddled closely together, as if clinging for life to the strong high precipice. In the last years, the old centre has been revived again with the opening of a number of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. Indeed, Ragusa’s distinguished Sicilian character has attracted many photographers and film producers, the latest of which being the popular Italian TV series of ‘Il Commissario Montalbano’.

    Grotta delle Trabacche - Ragusa The seminars’ participants were also given the opportunity to visit some of the locations that are included in the Archaeotur project in order to understand better the significance and value of this endeavor. One of the most outstanding was certainly the catacomb of the Grotta delle Trabacche in Ragusa. Recently, this catacomb has been thoroughly cleaned out and conserved, and information posts have been placed in the vicinity in order to guide those visiting this site. Two central opulent and monumental tombs within this catacomb indicate that two individuals who had some importance or a form of authority in their society were buried there. Moreover, one finds several other common tombs that were dug out of the walls and floors of the cavern.

    At one with nature in Cava CeloneIronically although hypogea and catacombs are directly connected with death, these sites tend also to provide crucial information about the life and the rituals of the living individuals who used these places. Therefore for example, a multitude of catacombs that are present in Cava Celone might be expressing the situation of an increasing population. These archaeological sites are magnificently enfolded within a wide valley full of wild vegetation, thus endowing the experience of visiting them with a sense of adventure; the silence reigning within the valley allows one to feel truly at one with nature. Meanwhile, the visit to three catacombs in this location revealed the work that still needs to be done on these archaeological sites, including cleaning, conserving, and planning a more practical path which the visitors could use for easy access.

    Artefact in the Regional Museum of CamarinaA visit to the Regional Museum of Camarina was undoubtedly distinctive especially because of the extraordinary display of a multitude of findings that were discovered both on land and under the sea of the Santa Croce Camarina area. Many of the artefacts discovered on land pertain to burial rites. Some of them are so refined that it is believed that they belonged to a Greek aristocracy who had immigrated to this area. On the other hand, the numerous objects that were recovered from several wrecks in the bay of Camarina demonstrate that many commercial ships passed through this zone. Among the prestigious exhibits, one finds a bronze archaic helmet that was recovered from a relic that lay seven metres under the sea in front of Punta Braccetto. Several amphorae, a classical Attic-Etruscan helmet, seventy-three clay lamps and some silver items were retrieved from two other relics that were buried in the middle of the bay. Likewise, in 1991, a huge storm revealed the treasure trove of a hoard of 6000 coins that was buried only 200 metres away from the coast.

    Artefacts in the Regional Museum of Camarina (2)Undeniably, the participants in this seminar had a good taste of the potential of these Sicilian sites that are included in the project of Archaeotur. In the first week of September, a second seminar, this time organized in Malta, will once again reunite Maltese and Sicilian experts and participants so that they can evaluate the work that has been done so far and also to visit some of the Maltese sites which form part of the Archaeotur project.

    No doubt this EU project is proving of great benefit towards cross-border cooperation in the sector of heritage conservation and interpretation and no less to cultural tourism which is certainly of substantial benefit to both territories.

    Archaeotur is a 1.37 million euro project which is co-financed under the Italia-Malta Programme Cohesion Policy 2007 – 2013 and is part-financed by the EU European Regional Development Fund. The partners involved within it are: Mosta and Rabat Local Councils, Heritage Malta, Malta Tourism Authority, the Comune of Ragusa and the Comune of Santa Croce Camarina, the Superintendence of BB.CC.AA Ragusa, the Archaeological Park of Camarina, and Giritravel SRL. The main purpose of this project is to conserve, interpret and market a number of archaeological sites which generally consist of hypogea and catacombs across the Maltese and Italian borders such as: Ta’ Bistra (Mosta), St Augustine (Rabat), Trabacche, Cava Celone, Cisternazzi and Donnafugata (Ragusa), and Mezzagnone, Pirrera and Mirio (Santa Croce Camarina).

    Further information about the Archaeotur project may be obtained through the website or by contacting Archaeotur Curator, Glen Farrugia, on

    (Note: An edited version of this article was published on FIRST magazine Issue September 2012).

    2012.09.09 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    Il-Katakombi Ta' Bistra, MostaBejn il-5 u s-7 ta’ Settembru 2012, fis-Sala Sant’Anġlu ġewwa l-Mużew Marittimu tal-Birgu, ser tiġi organizzata t-tieni parti ta’ seminar konness mal-proġett Archaeotur. Dawn il-laqgħat għandhom jinteressaw lil dawk kollha li għandhom għal qalbhom il-wirt kulturali nazzjonali u kif ukoll dak dinji. Għalkemm il-parteċipazzjoni f’dawn is-seminars hija b’xejn, huwa rakkommandat illi wieħed jirreġistra sabiex jirriserva post.

    Bejn is-sittax u t-tmintax-il seklu l-Grand Tour kien avventura popolari ħafna mal-familji aristokratiċi Ewropej. Infatti, bosta minnhom kienu jibagħtu lill-iben il-kbir tal-familja għall-vjaġġ ta’ sena madwar l-Ewropa sabiex hemm iżur is-siti klassiċi tal-arkeoloġija u b’hekk jifforma aħjar il-lat edukattiv u kulturali tiegħu. Uħud minn dawn kienu saħansitra jaslu sa Malta u fil-fatt fis-seklu sbatax insibu lil Ġan Franġisk Abela jakkompanja lill-viżitaturi ġewwa l-katakombi ta’ San Pawl. Għad illi għaddew bosta snin, il-ġibda għat-turiżmu kulturali għadha ħajja sewwa, tant li llum dan sar niċċa importanti fl-industrija turistika kemm Maltija u kif ukoll Ewropeja. Dan ifisser li hemm bżonn dejjem iżjed li ninvestu fil-partimonju kulturali u storiku sabiex nirrenduh aktar magħruf u miftuħ għall-pubbliku interessat.

    Il-Kastell Donnafugata Il-proġett Archaeotur li ser jiswa 1.37 miljun ewro huwa kofinanzjat taħt il-Programm Italia-Malta, Cohesion Policy 2007–2013, u parzjalment iffinanzjat mill-Fond Ewropew tal-Iżvilupp Reġjonali. Fih hemm involuti il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Mosta u dak tar-Rabat (Malta), Heritage Malta, l-Awtorità Maltija għat-Turiżmu, il-Comune di Ragusa u l-Comune di Santa Croce Camarina, is-Superintendenza dei BB.CC.AA di Ragusa f’kollaborazzjoni mal-Parco Archaeologico di Camarina u Giritravel SRL. L-għan aħħari tal-proġett Archaeotur huwa l-konservazzjoni u l-promozzjoni ta’ numru ta’ siti arkeoloġiċi li bosta minnhom jikkonsistu f’ipoġej jew katakombi f’Malta u fi Sqallija: Ta’ Bistra (il-Mosta) u Santu Wistin (ir-Rabat), Trabacche, Cava Celone, Cisternazzi u Donnafugata (Ragusa), u Mezzagnone, Pirrera u Mirio (Santa Croce Camarina).

    Waqt is-seminars fl-Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri, Ragusa IblaL-ewwel parti ta’ dawn is-seminars saret bejn il-11 u t-13 t’April 2012 ġewwa l-Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri f’Ragusa Ibla. Numru ta’ esperti f’dan il-qasam, kemm minn Malta u kif ukoll minn Sqallija, ddiskutew il-pjanijiet u l-miri tal-proġett Archaeotur, taw deskrizzjoni dettaljata ta’ xi siti u sejbiet arkeoloġiċi, u qasmu bejniethom ideat dwar ix-xogħol li qed isir u dak li għad irid jitwettaq sabiex dawn il-postijiet jiġu kkonservati u ppreżenati lill-viżitaturi bl-aktar mod professjonali.

    Grotta delle Trabacche Għal dawn is-seminars attendew ukoll numru ta’ studenti universitarji kemm Maltin u kif ukoll Sqallin, li flimkien mal-kelliema kellhom ukoll l-opportunità li jżuru wħud minn dawn is-siti sabiex b’hekk jifhmu aħjar is-sinifikat tal-proġett Archaeotur. Ngħidu aħna fil-Grotta delle Trabacche f’Ragusa kien evidenti x-xogħol ta’ tindif u konservazzjoni li kien sar fil-post fejn anki tpoġġew tabelli b’tagħrif għall-viżitaturi. Dan il-katakombi huwa meqjus bħala wieħed mis-siti l-aktar sinifikanti, l-aktar minħabba l-grandjożità monumentali ta’ żewġ oqbra li jinsabu fiċ-ċentru tiegħu, mdawwrin b’oqbra aktar sempliċi mħaffra fil-ħitan u fl-art tal-għar. Indubbjament dawn jagħtu indikazzjoni li almenu żewġ individwi ta’ ċerta importanza jew awtorità fis-soċjetà tal-madwar indifnu hemm.

    Cava Celone Ironikament, dawn il-postijiet konnessi mal-mewt għandhom ħabta jservu bħala fonti kruċjali ta’ informazzjoni dwar il-ħajja u l-użanzi tan-nies li sawwruhom u użawhom għall-bżonnijiet u r-ritwali tagħhom. Għalhekk, il-kwantità ta’ katakombi li wieħed isib f’Cava Celone, jista’ jkun li qed tirrappreżenta żieda sostanzjali fil-popolazzjoni ta’ dak iż-żmien. Iż-żjara fi tliet katakombi maġġuri wriet li f’dawn il-postijiet kien għad fadal ħafna xogħol xi jsir, speċjalment biex jitfasslu sinjali, mogħdijiet u trejqat aktar adegwati ħalli dawn il-postijiet jintlaħqu aktar faċilment mill-viżitaturi. Wieħed ma jistax ma jsemmix li dawn l-inħawi jinsabu f’wied mill-isbaħ, mogħni b’natura mhux mittiefsa fejn b’hekk il-viżitatur jista’ jitpaxxa bil-ġmiel tal-post filwaqt li jgawdi mis-sens tal-avventura li toffri kull esplorazzjoni.

    Infatti l-proġett Archaeotur huwa ffukat fuq it-tisħiħ tal-valur tal-esperjenza tat-turiżmu kulturali fejn it-turist ikun jista’ jżur għażla ta’ siti ta’ interess permezz ta’ heritage trails li jgħaqqdu f’itinerarju wieħed numru ta’ siti li forsi s’issa ma kinux qed jingħataw daqshekk importanza. Ngħidu aħna bosta turisti li jżuru l-kastell ta’ Donnafugata f’Ragusa probabbilment ma jafux li tefgħa ta’ ġebla ’l bogħod, mogħdija dejqa mistura fil-ħdura ta’ natura mill-iprem, twassal għal katakombi ċkejken li jmur lura għar-raba’ jew il-ħames seklu W.K.

    Il-monument ta' MezzagnoneL-istess nistgħu ngħidu għall-fdalijiet arkeoloġiċi mhux tas-soltu li jinsabu f’nofs ta’ għalqa ġewwa Mezzagnone f’Santa Croce Camarina. Din il-binja, li ilha tqanqal l-kurżità tal-istudjużi sa minn żmien twil, hija maħsuba li tmur lura għal bejn ir-raba’ u d-disgħa seklu W.K. u li għal xi żmien intużat bħala banju termali. Inċidentalment, dawk li jżuru dan il-post jistgħu jkomplu triqithom ftit kilometri oħra sabiex japprezzaw il-kollezzjoni arkeoloġika vasta li tinsab fil-Mużew Reġjonali ta’ Camarina. Imfittex minn bosta studjużi, partikolarment minħabba l-għadd kbir ta’ anfori ta’ tipi differenti li jħaddan fih, dan il-Mużew huwa mogħni b’sejbiet sinifikanti li nstabu fl-inħawi kemm taħt l-art u kif ukoll taħt il-baħar. Bosta mill-oġġetti li ġew skavati mill-art huma konnessi mar-ritwali tad-dfin, uħud minnhom tant huma raffinati u prestiġġjużi, li huwa maħsub li kienu jappartjenu lill-ewwel immigranti aristokratiċi Griegi li marru joqogħdu Il-Muzew Regjonali ta' Camarinaf’dawk l-inħawi. Affarijiet oħra li ttellgħu mill-bajja ta’ Camarina kienu jiffurmaw parti mit-tagħbija kummerċjali ta’ bosta xwieni li għerqu fil-post: prova tal-kummerċ kbir li kien isir f’dawk l-inħawi f’perjodi mbiegħda. Dawk l-aktar spettakolari jinkludu żewġ elmi tal-gwerra, numru ta’ statwetti u għodod, u kwantità ta’ msiebaħ u oġġetti tal-fidda.Huwa fatt magħruf li din il-bajja ta’ Camarina dan l-aħħar saret famuża mat-turisti minħabba s-serje popolari televiżiva ‘Il Commissario Montalbano’ peress li diversi xeni nġibdu f’dawn l-inħawi. Min-naħa l-oħra aktarx ftit jafu li f’din il-bajja jinstabu regolarment oġġetti arkeoloġiċi – bħas-6000 munita antika li nqalgħu minn taħt ir-ramel wara tempesta qalila li seħħet fl-1991.

    Xena minn Ragusa IblaIl-parteċipanti Maltin kienu joqogħdu f’lukanda żgħira ġewwa Ragusa Ibla u minħabba f’hekk huma setgħu jirrikonoxxu kemm dan il-post huwa ideali biex wieħed iqatta’ erbat ijiem hawnhekk sabiex iżur dawn is-siti tal-madwar li tkellimna dwarhom. Ragusa Ibla nnifisha hija belt bi storja kbira. Xhieda ta’ dan huma d-diversi binjiet medjevali u palazzi barokki. Interessanti li wieħed isemmi li ħafna minn dawn il-binjiet kellhom jerġgħu jinbnew wara li parti kbira minn din il-belt ġiet meqruda minn terremot qawwi li seħħ fil-11 ta’ Jannar 1693, fejn anki mietu madwar 5000 persuna. Wara din id-diżgrazzja wħud mill-abitanti riedu jerġgħu jibnu l-belt fejn kienet oriġinarjament, filwaqt li oħrajn għażlu nħawi aktar fl-għoli biex jibnu r-residenza tagħhom. Infatti llum tliet pontijiet jgħaqqdu l-parti tal-belt l-antika mal-parti l-ġdida. Ragusa Ibla, bil-bini tagħha antik donnu mdendel mal-blat tal-irdumijiet u mgezzez f’xulxin, joffri dehra tassew spettakolari. Mhux ta’ b’xejn li l-post ġibed lejh bosta fotografi u anki kumpaniji tal-films.

    Il-proġett Archaeotur huwa mistenni li jħeġġeġ aktar turiżmu kulturali bejn Ragusa u Malta, fosthom billi jinforma lill-pubbliku bl-opportunità li wieħed iżur dawn is-siti fiż-żewġ gżejjer. L-istorja ta’ Sqallija u ta’ Malta sikwit twaħħdet u mhux darba u tnejn li dawn il-popli, għalkemm mifrudin b’firxa wiesgħa ta’ baħar, għexu esperjenzi konnessi ma’ ta’ xulxin.

    Il-katakombi ta' Santu Wistin, Rabat MaltaGħas-seminars ta’ Archaeotur li ser jiġu organizzati f’Malta, ser jattendu wkoll diversi esperti, studenti u individwi minn Sqallija ħalli b’hekk terġa’ tingħata l-opportunità għat-taħlit tal-ideat u għad-diskussjoni dwar ix-xogħol li għad fadal isir kemm fis-siti ta’ Malta u kif ukoll dawk ta’ Sqallija, sabiex b’hekk jistagħna l-patrimonju kulturali taż-żewġ gżejjer. Fuq kollox il-parteċipanti ser ikunu qed jiġu mdawwra ma’ xi siti arkeoloġiċi Maltin bħall-katakombi Ta’ Bistra fil-Mosta u dak ta’ Santu Wistin fir-Rabat, li s’issa qatt ma kienu miftuħa għall-pubbliku.

    Aktar informazzjoni dwar il-proġett Archaeotur tista’ tinkiseb mill-website Reġistrazzjonijiet għall-attendenza f’dan is-seminar jistgħu jsiru kemm permezz tal-istess sit elettroniku, inkella billi tintbagħat e-mail lill-Kuratur tal-Proġett, Glen Farrugia, fuq

    (Nota: Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tas-26 t’Awwissu 2012)

    2012.08.26 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles