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Modica

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Modica is a town in the province of Ragusa in Sicily, with a population of about 55,000.

Understand

Modica is one of the eight "Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto" UNESCO world heritage sites. It's in two parts: Modica Alta, higher and older, is perched on top of the southern Ibeli hill. Modica Bassa is built lower down the slopes and in the valley below. Like the other nearby towns, Modica was smashed in the earthquake of 1693, and rebuilt in baroque style. The broad main avenue of the lower town used to be the river, but after a disastrous flood in 1902 it was diverted, and the graceful boulevard was developed.

Tourist information

  • 1 Ufficio Turistico, Corso Umberto I, 141 (Palazzo della Cultura), ☏ +39 346 65 58 227, ufficio.turistico@comune.modica.rg.it. M-F 08:00–13:30 15:30–19:00, Sa 09:00–13:00 15:30–19:00. (updated Mar 2017)

Get in

By plane

The closest airport is Comiso. It's 18 km north of Ragusa, with no public transport link. There are daily flights to Milan, and others to Rome FCO, London Stansted, Dublin, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt.

Catania Fontanarossa is further but has a bus service from Modica, and a greater range of domestic and European flights.

Palermo has a similar range of flights to Catania.

By train

Modica is on a branch line, plied by a lumbering single-coach railcar. Six trains a day M-Sa go north to Gela (80 min to 2 hrs, stops include Ragusa and Donnafugata) and south to Syracuse (90 min, stops include ScicliPozzalloIspica and Noto). From Gela there are connections to Palermo, and from Syracuse to Catania and Messina. No trains on Sunday.

  • 2 Stazione di Modica. The station is at the south end of town, a short walk brings you into Lower Town. It's just a platform halt with no facilities. (updated Mar 2018)

By bus

  • 3 Terminal Bus (Intercity bus stop). AST run buses to SyracuseCataniaPalermoRagusaPozzallo, and Noto. It's just a bus-stand on the N edge of town, but there's a bar and small supermarket here. (updated Mar 2018)

By car

  • From Catania, take SS114 and turn for Lentini SS194. From there follow sign to Ragusa on the SS514.
  • From Siracusa, take the motorway A18 and then the SS115.
  • From Agrigento/Gela, follow the SS.115

Get around

By bus

  • Urban bus, Corso Umberto 1, 470 (next to the intercity bus stop -- across the street from the "Barycentro"). The bus service is prone to be quite irregular, but expect to wait up to 40 min. Single €1.10; day pass €1.80. (updated Mar 2017)

See

A walk down from Modica Alta to Modica Bassa gives great views of the lower town. Either take the steps, or the zigzagging road.

Modica Alta

  • Duomo di San Giorgio. closed 12:30-16:00. The large Baroque cathedral, rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, is dedicated to St George. Its roots are in the Middle Ages but the bar near the altar tracing the midday sun's annual track shows a modern enquiring spirit. You can climb the tower for great views of the city (€2). (updated Oct 2019)
  • 2 Castello dei Conti (Castello di Modica). A former residence of the Counts of Modica. Re-opened in late 2017 after years of restoration, but now appears to be closed again, fenced off behind construction barriers. (updated Mar 2018)
  • 3 Palazzo Napolino-Tommasi Rosso, Corso Francesco Crispi, 38-62. An elegant late Baroque palazzo. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 4 Palazzo Polara. 17th century. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 5 Chiesa di Santa Maria del Gesù. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 6 Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista. (updated Mar 2017)

Modica Bassa

  • Modica Chocolate Museum and Civic Museum, Corso Umberto I, 149, ☏ +39 347 461 2771. Tu-Sa 10:00–14:00, 16:00–20:00; Su 10:00-13:00. The chocolate museum has an exhibition explaining Modica's unique way of preparing chocolate at low temperatures, which leaves sugar crystalized in the chocolate. The are sculptures and paintings on chocolate, and a huge map of Italy made of chocolate. €3.50 for each museum. (updated Oct 2019)
  • 7 Duomo di San Pietro. This notable church dedicated to St Peter crowned by a typical Sicilian Baroque belltower, 49 metres (161 ft) high. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 8 Chiesa rupestre di San Nicolò Inferiore, Piazzetta Grimaldi. Tu-Su 10:00-13:00 16:00-19:00. This "cave" church was dug into the rock. It was only discovered in 1987. The church is famous for rare frescoes on the bare rock in the late Byzantine style dating from the 12th to 16th centuries. Later excavations have unearthed some more crypts and tombs there. €2. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 9 Chiesa di Santa Maria di Betlem. In this church, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, there is a late Gothic chapel, Cappella Palatina or Cappella Cabrera (1474-1520), which is a listed Monumento nazionale. The arched entrance to the Chapel is richly decorated in Gothic Chiaramonte style with elements Arab, Norman and Catalan influence. It's regarded as one of the most beautiful monuments that architecture has produced in Sicily at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. In the church there is also the Presepe Monumentale, Monumental Nativity, (1881/82), with 62 terracotta figurines made in Caltagirone. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 10 Portale De Leva, Via De Leva, 8-24. Listed a National Monument, early 14th century, portal of the Palazzo De Leva is a fine example of the Gothic Chiaramonte style. The portal was probably an entrance to the church which was destroyed by an earthquake. Later it was incorporated into palazzo. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 11 Palazzo Grimaldi, Corso Umberto I, 106. An interesting example of Neo-Renaissance building. It belongs now to the Fondazione Grimaldi. A pinacoteca and a fotogallery are opened there. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 12 Palazzo degli Studi (ex Convento dei Padri Gesuiti). 17th-19th century. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 13 Teatro Garibaldi. A small theatre built between 1815-1820 in Neoclassical style. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 14 Palazzo della Cultura (ex. Monastero delle Benedettine), Corso Umberto I, 149. Winter: Tu-Su 09:00–13:00 15:30–19:30; summer: Tu-Su 10:00–13:00 17:00–20:00. Built in 16th-19th centuries, it hosts Museo Civico. €2. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 15 Chiesa del Carmine. and Ex. Convento del Carmine (updated Mar 2017)
  • 16 Palazzo San Domenico (Municipio). The town hall, a former Dominican convent, and a former seat of the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily. In the lobby, there is a 17th-century entrance into an underground crypt, discovered in mid-20th century, containing some friars' bones. Some traces of frescoes can be seen there on the walls. Adjacent to the palazzo is the Chiesa di San Domenico. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 17 Palazzo Salemi. Built between 1631-1640. A former Palazzo Comunale. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 18 Palazzo Rubino (Trombadore). 17-18th century, Rococo style. (updated Mar 2017)
  • 19 Palazzo dei Mercedari (ex Convento del Padri Mercedari). Now houses Biblioteca comunale and Museo delle Arti e delle Tradizioni Popolari. (updated Mar 2017)

Do

Buy

Modica is known for its artisanal chocolate production. Along Corso Umberto I and elsewhere, there are many shops selling this prized products, and offering samples of the many flavors it which it is produced.

Eat

  • 1 Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, Corso Umberto I, 159, ☏ +39 0932 941 225. 09:00-20:30. A pastry shop famous for their traditional chocolate. They also sell their products at some other shops in nearby towns including Ragusa. (updated Mar 2018)
  • Taverna Nicastro, Via S Antonino 30, ☏ +39 0932 945 884. Tu-Sa 19:15-22:15; closed Su & M. Traditional Sicilian cuisine. (updated Mar 2018)

Drink

Sleep

  • Grana Barocco Spa Hotel, Corso Umberto 133, Modica (At main junction in town, at foot of Ragusa road), ☏ +39 0932 754 704. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 23;00. 4-star hotel in 17th-century palace, very central. With Wellness Centre & Spa. €70-110. (updated Mar 2018)

Connect

Go next

  • Nearby Ragusa and Syracuse are both must-see destinations.
  • 1 Cava D'Ispica (Parco Forza). Approximately 13 km of extensive network of cave dwellings and other structures along river valley at the Hyblean plateau between the towns of Modica and Ispica. (updated Mar 2017)

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