Modica, the most baroque city of Sicily

a view of modicaAfter discussing about the delicious Modican chocolate, I couldn’t help but talking about the beautiful Sicilian city in which this chocolate is made, namely Modica. This city is regarded as the most baroque town of Sicily, maybe of Italy. Along with Noto and Ragusa, Modica has been included in the Unesco world heritage sites. If you love the baroque style, the stunning and magnificent churches relating to this architectural style, you must visit Modica, then. There are many other reasons that can push you to visit this Sicilian city. Above all, its picturesque alleys, where the landscape is perfectly merged with history and culture. In Modica, you can admire medieval and baroque palaces simultaneously, they are the most relevant heritage of this noble city. Indeed, in the Middle Age, Modica was a feudal County. It was dominated by the Spanish Kingdom and during this historical age went through a flourishing cultural and economic time. The Modica County was an independent State, such as Montecarlo or The Republic of San Marino. The Modican chocolate was first prepared by this powerful County, by enjoying an ancient Aztec recipe that only the Spanish noble people knew. Modica was added to Italy in 1861 and it was a chief town in Sicily with its own district. It was added to the district of Ragusa in the early twenty years of the past century. Often, people ask what is most beautiful among Noto, Ragusa and Modica. They are all wonderful, but Modica is worth a visit, at least, during your tour to Sicily. In the following paragraphs, you’ll understand why.

Tourist information

Modica-blue-hourModica is in the South East of Sicily, in the province of Ragusa, tucked away in the Iblei mounts, about 16 kms from Ragusa. Together with this city, Modica shares an evocative baroque culture and an untouched coastline. Always in common with Ragusa, Modica has the fact to be the seat of some episodes of the famous Tv series: The Inspector Montalbano. Its ancient origins are Greek such as Syracuse. Modica is also known as the city of the two cities, because consists of two main zones: Upper Modica, namely the ancient part of the city, and Lower Modica, the modern part. Amid them, there is also another downtown, Modica Sorda. Upper Modica is linked to the other two cities through stairs and bridges. From Upper Modica, you can admire a stunning view of Lower Modica at night. In fact, from the stairs of S. Giorgio Cathedral, which leading just to Upper Modica, Lower Modica appears in all entire beauty at night. The effect of Modica at night is really unforgettable and breathtaking. After seeing Modica at night, I can assure that your life will never be the same, anymore. To visit the two cities of Modica, forget the car, because Modica is as a narrow maze of steep slopes and you’d better walk on foot. If you feel the energy to do this, do it! It will be an awesome experience. You could also use the car, but only during August, where the alleys of Modica are deserted because the most of the inhabitants moved to the nearby beaches. Only on this occasion, you could find a car park. Modica Sorda, instead, is a modern neighborhood which is only useful to do shopping.

What to see and do in Modica

modica- sicily-at-nightAll the one you can see and do in Modica is to visit its baroque churches, walk along the centre, in the Umberto I street ( see the image), to admire a charming medieval and baroque landscape and taste its delicious typical food prepared at the bars and local restaurants. This street goes through all the lower part of the city and it is flanked by a series of architectural elements which witness its historical importance, in turn regarded as the baroque salon of Sicily. On the left, it is the former monastery of The Benedettine, today turned into the Palace of Culture, where you can visit the most important museums of the city: Chocolate museum, Museum of Memory, The medical Museum Tommaso Campanella and the Home of the famous Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo. Modica, indeed, is also defined a sky open museum because offers you the great opportunity to admire a stunning collection of museums devoted to archaeology, history, culture, landscape and typical products.

saint- peter-church-modicaAlways from Umberto I street, a few meters forward, on the right, you’ll see the large stair of the baroque Church of S. Peter( see the image), the Tedeschi Palace and the baroque Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso. In front of them you’ll see The XIII century Manenti Palace. All these architectural buildings are enriched with baroque decorations. In addition to the Umberto I Street, another baroque tour you must do in Modica is to visit:

  • The Carmine Church,
  • The municipal palace,
  • San Giorgio Cathedral,
  • S. Mary Of Betlem Churc
  • The Castle of the Counts

 

Modica-castle-of-the-countsThe Carmine Church is a religious building made of architectural gothic elements. The municipal square crosses Umberto I street. It is surmounted by the steep slope of the castle of the Counts destroyed during the earthquake of 1693, where it is placed a big tower with a clock. The castle is a ruin and you can only admire the clock on the tower from outside ( see the image above).

On the right, you’ll see the Municipal Palace, that once was a former Dominican convent, and the baroque church of S. Domenico, destroyed in 1613 and rebuilt in 1678.

S. Mary Of Betlem Church lies at the foot of The castle of the Counts. It is a very interesting late gothic church with evocative decorations.

San-Giorgio-Cathedral-ModicaAbout the baroque churches in Modica, you don’t miss to visit S. Giorgio Cathedral ( see the image). This cathedral is the symbol of the Sicilian baroque style and also made Modica the Sicilian capital of baroque. To visit San Giorgio Cathedral, you must go toward Upper Modica. Just from the Umberto I street, you can ride the alleys leading to Upper Modica. Furthermore, to reach the main external entrance of this cathedral, you must climb a spectacular stair with 250 steps. This climb is like to do a heavenward pilgrimage. That is why I said you must have a lot of energy to do this experience. Climb the stairs slowly and you’ll reach the main entrance of the church. Inside, you’ll admire well five magnificent naves richly embellished, the Dome, the communicating Chapels, a great organ and stunning artworks. In the central part, you’ll also see a beautiful painting of Christ. Besides this cathedral, you can also visit other interesting baroque churches in Modica, such as the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Church of Saint John the Evangelist.

the-house-of-butterflies-modicaAnother tourist attraction you must visit in Modica is The House of Butterflies ( La casa delle farfalle). This fabulous nature museum is placed just in the centre of Modica, in Giacomo Matteotti, street. The House of Butterflies is a wonderful garden which hosts a stunning collection of tropical and exotic butterflies, many of them are very colored and really enthralling ( see the image). The House of Butterflies is opened every year from March to the first days of June.

Modica beaches

Santa-Maria- del-Focallo-beachIf you visit Modica in the summer, I suppose you also want to visit its beaches, maybe to sunbath and relaxing. The beaches in Modica relates to a shoreline which includes, from the East side: Marina di Modica, Sampieri, Donnalucata, Marina di Ragusa and from the West side: Pozzallo and Santa Maria del Focallo. These all are sandy beaches with also maintain an untouched landscape and crystal and blue waters. Only Marina di Modica is included in the city of Modica. The other beaches such as Sampieri and Donnalucata are part of the municipality of Scicli, another beautiful baroque Sicilian village I’ll discuss about very soon. Marina di Ragusa is the main beach of Ragusa city and is at a distance of 36 kms from Modica. It is outfitted with many facilities and along the coast you can rent boats and buy many local products at the stands surrounding the beach promenade. Here you can admire jewels, picturesque pots with plants, paintings and other beauties of the Sicilian art. Marina di Modica is about 22 kms from Modica. The nearest beaches are the ones of Donnalucata ( that you can visit while you are doing a tour to Scicli) and Pozzallo. They are only 17-18 kms from Modica. In Marina di Modica, in summer, you can also enjoy the farmer markets. They are the places where local farmers sell their local products straight to buyers. You can visit these markets in the afternoon from 17 p.m every Tuesday , Friday in Mediterraneo square, and Saturday in Taormina Street, in Marina di Modica. The beach of Marina di Modica is called Maganuco beach. It has dunes and it crossed by gusts of wind which are ideal for windsurfing. Another place where you can do windsurf is Santa Maria del Focallo. This is an untouched beach in the town of Ispica, in the West side of Modica, but a distance of 37 kms from Modica.

What to eat in Modica

modica-doughbread-stuffed- with-broccoli-and-sausageHere is us at the hot paragraph about what to eat in Modica. In addition to the Modican chocolate, you can taste delicious Sicilian dishes , such as Sicilian cannoli, and the best of street food, such as Sicilian arancini and the classic “scaccia with broccoli”. I eat this dish and it’s absolutely delicious. This is the classic “scaccia ragusana” ( bread dough of Ragusa) prepared both in Ragusa and Modica. In this city it is also called “pastizzu di Modica”. That is a bread dough which can be stuffed with broccoli, black olives, anchovies and Sicilian cheese, especially Sicilian tuma, but also with chicken, lamb, potatoes or sausage( see the image). When you visit the centre of Modica, you can eat this dish at local restaurants, where sometimes, the names of these dishes are written in English, Italian and in the Sicilian dialect.

How to reach Modica

You can reach Modica easily from Catania and Comiso airport. The latter is only 40 kms from Modica. You can use Comiso airport if you are leaving from London, Dussedolf, Charleroi, Pisa, Rome and Milan. If you are leaving from other foreign countries, you must land at Catania airport. From Catania, you can take a bus to Modica with the label AST. They offer transfers to Catania-Modica and Catania-Donnalucata, if you want to visit this beach. The ticket has a price of 9 euros. You can buy the ticket in the bus. From Comiso, you can also take a bus, but I am not sure you can find one available on the dates you want to visit the city. For this reason, I advise you see this link, to find the taxi service you need. My brother in law is also a taxi driver, if you want to do a tour to Modica through him, please let me know.

If you rent a car:

From Catania: follow the A18 highway and take the SS514 to Ragusa.
From Comiso: follow the SS 115 and go through the so called Modica bridge, overcome Ragusa and then follow the road sign to Modica.

GPS coordinates of the centre of Modica are: N 36.857663, E 14.760558.

Hotels and Accommodations

modica-hotelsThere are several kinds of accommodations in Modica. They can have a different style. It depends on the location. If they are in Upper Modica, they’ll resemble to baroque palaces, while if they are in the Lower Modica, they can have a more contemporary style. Many accommodations can also be magnificent and outfitted with a luxury style. If you want to enjoy the sight of Modica at night, you must absolutely book accommodations in the Upper Modica, maybe outfitted with terrace or balcony.

Out of the centre of Modica, the accommodations are pretty and picturesque. They are nestled in the Sicilian countryside and resemble a rural ancient county. They can be outfitted with lawn and garden. Before reaching them, you’ll go through a charming landscape surrounded by trees and small walls of dry stone used by the farmers to outline the borders of their lands. These stone walls are nowadays an elegant architectural element of many accommodations between Modica and Ragusa.

To book the accommodations I described here, you can see this link.

 

Photocredits:

Modica at the blue hours – Raffalele di Rosa

Butterfly- Lacasadellefarfalle.eu