Aruciméli Country House is located a few minutes from the small town of Giarratana.
Giarratana is one of the 11 municipalities belonging to the Province of Ragusa and has around 3,000 inhabitants. Coming from Ragusa, and situated immediately by the entrance of the town, there is a sign bearing the words, “Giarratana: The Pearl of the Iblei.” This is clearly due to the town’s artistic treasures, centuries old folk traditions, and important gastronomic culture.
As introduced above, Giarratana is a stop that we recommend doing on your tour around the Ibleo as it offers several fascinating attractions. Let’s start with the town’s artistic-cultural tradition. In Giarratana there are three majestic churches: the Church of San Bartolomeo Apostolo, the Chiesa Madre [Holy Mother Church], and the Basilica of Sant’Antonio. The Church of San Bartolomeo Apostolo existed already in the fourteenth century. However, much of its structure dates back to the eighteenth century, after its reconstruction following the disastrous earthquake that struck Giarratana in 1693. At first sight, what is most astonishing is the imposing and steep staircase which is its hallmark. The church is a typical example of Sicilian Baroque. Its interior with three naves contains precious gilded stuccos, an asphaltic stone floor, and majolica tiles from the late eighteenth century. During the month of August, in the week that starts on August 16 and culminates on August 24, the church is decorated to accommodate the festivities in honor of the patron saint of the village, St. Bartholomew the Apostle.
The Chiesa Madre [Holy Mother Church] is characterized by a late-Renaissance façade, and contains paintings of immense artistic value, such as the “Annunciation” by Marcello Viery, which dates back to 1790.
The Basilica of Sant’Antonio, also destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, was rebuilt in the eighteenth century in Baroque style in the upper part of the town. It contains prized gilt stuccos and some statues, among which is the “Madonna della Neve” [Madonna of the Snow], patron saint of the village, whose feast is celebrated on August 5th.
The distinguishing features of the typical patronal festivals in honor of St. Bartholomew, St. Anthony, and the Madonna of the Snow are the traditional “sciuta,” in which the statue of the saint is carried on the shoulders of the faithful, at first outside the church and then about the town.
In addition to the architectural splendors of Giarratana, it is very pleasurable to wander through the streets of the “cuozzu,” i.e., the upper and historic part of the town. Here you lose yourself in an almost twentieth-century atmosphere due to the characteristic houses and the old structures within it. This charming neighborhood is further known because during the Christmas period there is the Live Nativity Scene, which every year welcomes thousands of visitors from all over Sicily. The Nativity Scene is a realistic representation of the birth of Jesus and features various individuals appearing in the garb and in the customary professions that were typical of the nineteen hundreds.
Another highlight of Giarratana is the “onion,” the pride of the culinary tradition of the town and the entire Ibleo area. It is renowned for its flattened shape, its weight which can even reach 3.5 kg, and its sweet taste. Thanks to this particular flavor, nowadays the onion in addition to being eaten alone or as a condiment is also used for the preparation of jams and preserves. We recommend that you sample the famous “scacce with onion” [flatbread stuffed with onions].