Palazzo del Monte di Pietà was built in 1616 for the Arciconfraternita degli Azzurri. The building was modified in 1741 with the addition of a first floor, a bell tower and a staircase. These were built to designs of the architect Antonino Basile. A fountain decorated with a statue of Abundance was built in the middle of the staircase.
The structure was damaged during the earthquake of 1783 and that of 1908. The building's upper floor was largely destroyed during the latter earthquake. The structure was further damaged by World War II bombings. Restoration of the building began in 1979, and it is now used for cultural purposes.
The Palazzo del Monte di Pietà is built in the Mannerist style. The ground floor has a central rusticated portal topped by a broken pediment, flanked by two windows on each side. The windows are topped by triangular pediments, and they are separated by niches.
The first floor of the building, which was constructed in the 18th century, had an open balcony flanked by two windows on each side. The balcony and the lower parts of the windows can still be seen, but the rest of the floor was destroyed in the 1908 earthquake.
The building contains a large vaulted hall which opens into a courtyard. This leads to the 18th-century monumental staircase, leading to the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà. Only part of the façade of the church has survived; the building itself was destroyed during the 1908 earthquake.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.