Modica is one of Sicily’s famous baroque towns which lies in the province of Ragusa in the islands southeastern corner. This town displays a baroque architecture typical of the 17th and 18th Centuries. That said, Modica’s history certainly goes much further back in time than this. In fact, though the exact date of its founding is unknown, Modica definitely has Greek and Roman roots. It is only because of a tragic earthquake in the late 1600s that this city was rebuilt at all. This earthquake all but razed this and many other cities to the ground, meaning the Sicilians had to rebuild much of the area.
This city lies across a few steep hills, which in turn create Modica Alta (upper Modica) and Modica Bassa (lower Modica). This does make for quite a sightseeing trip that might be more tiring than usual. Nevertheless, your beautiful surroundings are sure to distract you from the climb! What is more, heading up the hills will reward you with stunning views over their valleys. You can find a particularly lovely panorama at the Cattedrale di San Giorgio. To reach this cathedral you must first climb over 160 steps. However you will soon forget these upon your arrival at the top. Here you will find breathtakingly sweeping views over the rest of Modica and the surrounding landscapes. This cathedral, along with many buildings in the town is recognized by UNESCO for its architectural and historical value.
Another impressive church is the Cattedrale di San Pietro. This actually predates the 1690s earthquake, first appearing in the 14th Century. Of course, this too underwent complete reconstruction after this terrible event. Nonetheless, it is a fine example of typically Sicilian baroque architecture.
Interestingly, Modica is the birthplace of the Nobel-prize-winning poet, Salvatore Quasimodo. For those interested in such culture, you can go to his house which is now open to visitors as something of a house museum.
Another famous export of Modica is its celebrated chocolate. This takes its inspiration and tradition from the Aztecs. The process of making this particular chocolate came from the South Americas when the city was part of the Spanish Kingdom. Its texture and flavor is quite singular, and you can try it in such exotic flavors as pistachio, citrus fruits and chili. The most peculiar of these chocolates is the Modican ‘mpanatigghie, which is a sweat treat that consists of mincemeat mixed into the chocolate! To celebrate this part of its gastronomy, Modica holds a short festival every Fall called Chocobarocco.
On the savory side of the area’s gastronomical culture you will find many dishes that include fish, given its proximity to the sea. Anything from pasta dishes to the Sicilian speciality arancini will make use of the fresh fish, often sardines. Vegetarians can also enjoy the food here, however. Another typical bite to eat is the scacce, which is essentially foccaccia bread that comes stuffed with vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli and aubergine.
Modica is easily accessible by train. One of the nearest international airports is Catania-Fontanarossa which lies just outside another baroque town of the area, Catania. Slightly nearer to Modica you will also find Comiso airport. From here you can easily book a connection, or even use public transport to arrive in the city center.