Modica is surprising, elegant, and mysterious. The best way to explore this town is on foot. You can enjoy walking its stairways, getting lost in the maze of alleyways, and overlooking its viewpoints. You’ll need a lot of energy: luckily Modica is also the Sicilian homeland of chocolate. Modica Bassa is the town’s meeting place and where our journey begins. The Church of San Pietro is a landmark. In the Chocolate Museum of Modica, you can discover the origin of chocolate. Watch how it is prepared and admire a large chocolate sculpture, some 9 metres high.
Strolling along Corso Umberto I, you will see the many shops and taverns, delicious restaurants, and pastry shops. Everything invites you to taste the local delicacies. We will be back here later.
Now it is time to find out why Modica has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. It is no mystery that the City of a Hundred Churches, as it is known, is considered the capital of Baroque in Sicily.
With its 19th-century and Art Nouveau influences, the late Baroque architectural style gives the city a unique chromatic and scenic harmony. The city centre is built on four rocky promontories. The buildings, churches and palaces are made of stone. They all have a warm golden colour.
The majestic Cathedral of St George is the symbol of Baroque worship. The church is 62 metres high and has 250 steps leading up to the entrance. It is so beautiful that, upon entering, you might be struck by Stendhal’s syndrome. As you look down, you can notice a line running across the floor: it is one of Sicily’s marvellous sundials.
If you follow the Tv series Il Commissario Montalbano, you will see that the cathedral and its roof garden appear in one episode of the fiction. Palazzo della Cultura and the Liceo Tommaso Campailla, are also some of the set locations of the series based on Camilleri’s novels.
Climbing one of the stairs next to the Duomo, we reach Pizzo Belvedere. From this panoramic terrace overlooking the rooftops of Modica Alta, there is a magnificent view of Modica Bassa as well.
In Via Sant’Andrea, less than a kilometre from the centre, the most beautiful view of Modica at sunset awaits us. At night, from the “top” of the Monserrato hill, you can admire the incomparable beauty of Modica illuminated by the lights of the street lamps.
Let’s get back on the road to discover one of the most surprising castles in the south. The Castello dei Conti stands on an impregnable rocky spur overlooking the town. Here time seems to stand still. Close to the castle walls is another symbol of Modica, the Clock Tower.
We continue to venture through the network of stairs and streets. We notice the medieval layout of the houses, built back-to-back. We come across the birthplace of the writer Salvatore Quasimodo. Reading some of his verses, we may wish to explore the places of his poetry. We continue to wander through the historic part of the town until we reach the centre. We find ourselves in the Vignazza-Fontana district, home to the ancient Necropolis of Quartiriccio. It is the place of the city’s first human settlement. The site has thirty castelluccio cave tombs dating back to the Early Bronze Age.
In the territory of Modica, there is another area with remains of the past, hidden in the unspoilt nature: it is Cava d’Ispica. It is one of the canyons in the Sicilian region where it is possible to make trekking and archaeological excursions. If you want to learn more, discover the dedicated route. All these stairs will certainly have whetted your appetite. The lolli (fresh, hand-rolled and coarsely cut pasta) with baked broad beans (Slow Food Praesidium) are a must in the local cuisine. The Scaccia is the city symbol of Sicilian street food par excellence