I think I can say it with serenity, Modica it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the place that I liked and that amazed me the most of my last on-the-road trip to Sicily. I stayed for two nights and I wish I could have stayed even longer! I loved its being developed on multiple hills (there is in fact one Modica Alta it's a Modica Bassa, from which you can enjoy fantastic views), its great late Baroque heritage, the incredible food of its restaurants, the chocolate, the terraces and its night views. Modica also seemed to me a very lively city (unlike Ragusa for example), small but full of bars and restaurants frequented by the locals; a city certainly organized for tourists but not only. If you stop in this area of Sicily and you have to decide where to stop and sleep, I recommend it, also because, in addition to everything I have written above, it is central and convenient for visiting Ragusa Ibla, Scicli, Ispica and the beaches.
What to see in Modica
Corso Umberto I and the Cathedral of San Pietro
Arriving in Modica the first thing you will see in the city will surely be Corso Umberto I, the road that cuts Modica Bassa in two and overlooked by the most beautiful city buildings, baroque churches, bars and restaurants. Above all, the beautiful stands out Cathedral of San Pietro, whose entrance is reached by a steep staircase embellished with life-size statues of the apostles. The interior decorated with inlays of white marble, polychrome marble and black pitch also deserves. The church suffered numerous damages due to the earthquake of 1693 and was rebuilt starting in 1697. Also worth seeing Grimaldi Palace and the baby rock church of San Nicolò Inferiore.
Church of St. George
Among the things to see in Modica, the most iconic is certainly her, the Church of St. George, a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque, with an elliptical facade surmounted by the bell tower. To reach it you will have to go up to Modica Alta by a very particular zigzag staircase consisting of two twin ramps that end in the terrace in front of the church. From here you will have a magnificent view over the city and I recommend that you go up both day and night. Halfway up the steps there is also one of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset, the Gardens of San Giorgio, an outdoor venue in a garden that opens between the ramps.
Salvatore Quasimodo House Museum
I think I have already told you that I have a passion for the houses of famous historical figures so I could not include among the things to see in Modica the native house of one of its most illustrious citizens: Salvatore Quasimodo, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959. The museum is housed in the house where the writer was born on August 20, 1901, which is located in an alley behind the Cathedral of San Pietro. In the two main rooms (the Milanese studio and the bedroom) you can see furniture and objects that belonged to the great writer, there are his watercolors, photos and several other relics that belonged to the poet.
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
Although I have never been to Modica before, I knew the Modica chocolate well! In fact it is one of my favorites and in this ancient confectionery (which is the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily) I would have bought 10 kg of chocolate !! This type of chocolate is obtained with a particular 'cold' process that you can see from the laboratory in sight of theAntica Dolceria Bonajuto, where they make flavored tablets with many flavors (ginger, vanilla, salt, etc.).
What to see around Modica
The village of ispica it is a small gem that is located 18 km from Modica. Here it is worth stopping to see two things in particular: the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore with the portico and the Cave d'Ispica. The portico in front of the Basilica is truly unique, it is semi-circular and has 23 passages .. you will not see anything like it in any other town in Sicily! The Cave d'Ispica instead they are gorges scattered with natural caves that have been used as tombs and houses used by man from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century, with the various phases overlapping one another.
Ragusa Ibla it was, on paper, the focus of my trip to Sicily, but I liked other places (like Modica in fact) in the end. However, I cannot say that it is not beautiful, on the contrary! Destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, the old city (now Ragusa Ibla) was initially abandoned and a new one was built, Ragusa (or Upper Ragusa). The inhabitants of Ragusa Ibla, however, slowly rebuilt it, maintaining its old medieval layout made up of narrow streets that climb the rocky spur and this part of the city was reunited with the new one. If I have to be honest, it reminded me a lot of Matera, especially the views of Ragusa Ibla that open from Santa Maria della Scala in Ragusa Superiore. The central square of Ragusa Ibla is very beautiful, it is sloping, and hosts the church of San Giorgio, but it is worth wandering through the alleys of the whole town to fully appreciate it. Then move to Ragusa Superiore to get the "postcard" views of Ragusa Ibla.
Among the things to see in Modica and its surroundings there is certainly also the picturesque village of scicli, which is located 10 km from Modica. If you have seen the Montalbano series on TV you will have a certain deja vù because the town hall of Scicli appears in all episodes as the police station. The Town Hall opens up Via Mormorina Penna, the most scenic street of Scicli on which the most important and beautiful buildings of the town are located. Not far away there is Palace Benevento, the Baroque masterpiece of Scicli, adorned with monsters deformed by grotesque grins. Climbing the steps that start right next to it you then reach the abandoned church of San Matteo from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city.
Punta Secca, Sampieri and the Fornace Penna
If you take this trip in the summer and you also want to do some sea around Modica I recommend you go to Punta Secca or Sampieri. Punta Secca is a small seaside village with the beach where the Montalbano's house (the one on the beach, in Marinella) in the TV drama. Here I recommend that you go there in the afternoon and stay to see the sunset as there are a couple of bars that have incredible views. Sampieri it is another characteristic village with a beautiful beach and some equipped lido. If you love industrial archeology do not miss the ruins of the old one Furnace Pen, which can also be seen from the beach (also here they shot some scenes of Montalbano ..).
Where sleeping in Modica
Le Magnolie Hotel: looking for a hotel that had a panoramic terrace overlooking the city, I found this small hotel which is located in an alley just above the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. The hotel is modern, but in a period building, it has large and comfortable rooms and, in fact, a beautiful terrace from which you can see the Cathedral of San Pietro and Modica Alta. Super recommended!
Where to eat in Modica
- Gardens of San Giorgio : This open air bar / restaurant is located next to the steps leading to San Giorgio and is the best place to enjoy the sunset.
- Accursio Roots : the Accursio bistro (starred restaurant next door). An excellent restaurant to eat Sicilian cuisine in both classic and revisited versions at fair prices. The restaurant is also very nice (see photo below).
- Osteria dei Sapori Perduti : historic inn on Corso Umberto I where you can enjoy typical home cooking.
- Ornate : nice restaurant hidden in the alleys specializing in fish cuisine (both raw and cooked).
- Umami : excellent restaurant (mainly fish) located in a street above the cathedral of San Pietro.
- Hemingway vineria : excellent wine bar with outdoor tables just behind the cathedral.
You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Sicily:
- What to see in Catania and surroundings
- Western Sicily: 3 days between Marsala, Mazara, Selinunte, Segesta and Gibellina
- What to see in Palermo in 3 days
- What to see around Palermo
- Where to eat in Palermo
- Favignana: the beaches, where to sleep and where to eat
- Marettimo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily