The Balcony of Sicily
Chiaramonte Gulfi is located on a hill-top 15 kilometres (9 mi) north of Ragusa at an altitude of 668 metres (2,192 ft) above sea level.
The town is also called Balcony of Sicily for its panoramic position, with views over the Valley of the Ippari and its towns (Comiso, Vittoria, Acate) and all the way to the Mediterranean sea if looking south, as far as Mount Etna in direction north and to the Erean Mountains with Caltagirone if looking west.
In the area numerous archeological sites from the Bronze age and Iron age have been found, as well as ruins dating to the Greek Archaic era and Hellenistic era. Also Roman, Byzantine and medieval testimonies can be found.
The city was founded by the Greek colonists from Syracuse in the 7th century BC with the name of Akrillai. Destroyed a first time by the Carthaginians in 406 BC, it was rebuilt during the Timoleonic era. In 213 BC Akrillai was the location of battle in which the Syracusan army, led by Hippokrates, was defeated by the Roman army led by the Consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus. Thenceforth the city of Akrillai was part of the Roman province of Sicily, its name being changed to Acrillae.
The ancient town was destroyed a second time by the Arabs under Asad ibn al-Furat in 827 AD, and the name Acrillae disappeared. The rebuilt centre was known by the Arabic name of Gulfi, which means "pleasurable place".
In 1299 Gulfi was besieged and captured by Roger de Lauria for the Angevines during the War of the Vesper; Manfredi Chiaramonte, who had been named Count of Modica by the Aragonese King Frederick III, moved the survivors to an upper location, called Baglio, which he fortified and protected with a castle.
In 1593 the town had grown outside the walls and had 5,711 inhabitants. It was nearly entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, and was subsequently rebuilt.