Modica, Italy

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City Guide

Welcome to Modica!

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Modica is one of eight late Baroque towns of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Val di Noto. The Italian writer Gesualdo Bufalino described Modica in the novel Blind Argus as, "... a land in the shape of a broken pomegranate; near the sea but rural; half restricted on a spur of rock, half scattered at his feet; with so many stairs between the two halves, to act as peacemakers, and clouds in the sky from one bell tower to the other, breathless as relays of the Cavalleggeri del Re…”

Today – Now

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PLANNING & BOOKING

The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!

Unforgettable Moments - Modica Highlights



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Modica stands on a plateau, once lying on the bed of the Moticano river (Fiumara di Modica) where the two rivers Janni Màuru and Pozzo Pruni converged. At the beginning of '900 the river was covered and walled to create today's Corso Umberto I. The city of about 55 thousand inhabitants is today divided into Modica Alta, the old town where the castle stood, Modica Bassa, a political and cultural center around Corso Umberto I and the new residential and commercial area of the Sacred Heart, called also Modica Sorda.

The late Baroque architecture, which distinguishes the church, palaces, and monuments of this city, has been honored as UNESCO World Heritage since 2002 (together with other places in the Val di Noto). Walking through the streets of Modica you will find the strong attraction for tourists due not only to the uniqueness of its chocolate and the places of Tommaso Campailla and Salvatore Quasimodo, but also from the breathtaking countryside and a large number of churches.

Day-by-Day Breakdown

Day 1: Arrival + Getting Acquainted


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Arrival

Buongiorno! Welcome to Modica! We know the feeling, having your excitement of landing at a new place being replaced by the dread of customs, luggage and how you’ll be reaching your hotel. Don’t worry though, if you have everything planned beforehand, you’ll find that you’ll be done in no time.

Nearly all visitors who fly into Modica fly through Comiso Airport. The airport is located 25 miles north of Modica. There are only few regular flights to Comiso from Malta and Rome. Most likely you’ve to book your flight to Rome and then take a connecting flight to Comiso Airport.

The airport is linked to Modica town through public buses that take over two hours and charge $4 - $5 one way. Taxi is a faster option but it costs $60 - $75.

Morning

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Start your Modica journey from the main street of the city - Corso Umberto I - that crosses the whole of Modica Bassa, precisely from Piazza Matteotti, where there is the Carmine Church, with an adjoining convent. This complex, of late Gothic origin (although part of the facade and the bell tower have been rebuilt in Baroque style), is one of the few that resisted the various earthquakes. 

In fact, you can still admire the Chiaramonte portal, dating back to the end of the 15th century, with lateral columns and floral capitals and above, the Franciscan rose window with 12 rays, the only remains of the old structure.

Afternoon

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After the visit, take the De Leva road on the left until you see the church of the SS. Salvatore, originally from the 15th century but rebuilt in the eighteenth century. Inside there is a marble altar with five medallions representing some episodes of the Bible. 

In the same street, try to point out Palazzo De Leva (19th century), an ancient building that belonged for centuries to a noble Modica family, as evidenced by the heraldic coat of arms that stands out on the facade. A characteristic feature of this building is undoubtedly the late Gothic-Chiaramonte style portal, one of the most evocative of the city, characterized by the presence of arches with a large three-part ogive with zig-zag decorations, completed by acanthus leaves.

Evening

In the evening, continuing on Corso Umberto I, you will arrive at the Piazza del Municipio where you will find the former Dominican Convent that houses the municipal offices. Alongside stands the church of San Domenico (also called the Rosary), rebuilt in 1678 after the earthquake of 1613. The baroque-style facade has a portal with a round arch with Dominican coat of arms and four niches where the statues are carved in stone. The interior has a nave with vaulted ceilings and houses a chapel with 18th-century stucco decorations by Giuseppe Gianforma from Palermo.

Day Two: Take out your walking shoes!   


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Morning

Today, you will continue on the same path where you left yesterday. Moving ahead on the same road you will arrive in Piazza S. Maria where there is the church of S. Maria di Betlem (or Bethlehem) and one of the three ancient colleges of Modica. In the past, there were four small churches. The current structure of the church is the result of the renovations that took place over the centuries and following various seismic events: the lower part of the façade dates back to the 16th century, while the second story was completed only in the 19th century.



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Afternoon

Stroll along the narrow streets of the historic center of the "Sbalzo" district. Going up towards Modica Alta you can admire some characteristic houses carved into the rock and, in Posterla street, the birthplace of Salvatore Quasimodo which houses a small museum with the memories of the Modica poet and a small library. 


Walking uphill, you will arrive Via Castello which flanks the enclosure of the ancient medieval castle. Of the castle of the Counts of Modica, originally from the 13th century but destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, only the outer walls remain. The 17th-century Clock Tower is still working and is the symbol of Modica.

Evening.

If you are in Modica you can not miss a dinner at the Osteria dei Sapori Perduti (excellent local cuisine with many specialties based on meat and vegetables), where you can enjoy delicious Sicilian dishes. Don’t miss the unique Modica chocolate, which you can taste and buy in many shops in the streets of the city center. The menu is accompanied by a booklet including ingredient lists, descriptions, and wine recommendations in several languages.

Day 3: Get Cultured!

Morning

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Have a traditional Sicilian breakfast at your hotel restaurant followed by a morning walk along Regina Margherita, one of the most important streets of the city. The street is lined with buildings full of decorative elements in Baroque style as shelves, windows, portals, corner pilasters, masks and more. 

At the end of the street, you will arrive at Piazza S. Giovanni where you can see the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista. The church is characterized by an imposing staircase with 26 columns on the sides, once adorned with as many statues, of which only three remain today. The cross on top of the façade that stretches towards the sky represents the highest point of all Modica.

Afternoon

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From Piazza San Giovanni, take the road on the left, to reach the Pizzo lookout. From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Modica.

Circling back to Piazza San Giovanni, going right through Via Gesù to Via Don Bosco, you will meet the church of Santa Maria del Gesù with adjoining convent of the fifteenth century, built on the orders of Countess Anna Cabrera and Count Federico Hernandez. The complex is open for tourists only for a few occasions, but you can admire the splendid façade.

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Evening

What’s a better way to finish off the day than to visit Caffè Adamo and savor Adamo's gelato! To satisfy your sweet tooth, you have to taste the freshness and flavor of this Italian ice cream. No matter if you choose dreamy ricotta, pistachio, or crema, you will fall in love with it.

Day 4: Ragusa Day-Trip!

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Morning 

Today is a great day to hop onto an AST bus in Modica and head to Ragusa. Rebuilt after the devastating 1693 earthquake, Ragusa is now one of the UNESCO World Heritage towns of southern Sicily. Ragusa Ibla, built on the ruins on the hilltop, is the older heart, while and Ragusa Superiore is the modern extension.

After you reach Ragusa, take a stroll to the delightful Giardino Ibleo. From here, along the pedestrian street among the imposing baroque buildings, you arrive in the heart of the city: Piazza Duomo and the Cathedral of San Giorgio. 


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Afternoon: 

Have a delicious Sicilian lunch at Duomo Ristorante, just opposite of Piazza Duomo. Burn off your lunch with a climb to the new part of the city along Corso Mazzini: from here you will have a beautiful view of the old town. You can climb both by car and on foot, along the staircase that connects the two parts of the city and also leads to a balcony from which you can take wonderful pictures without the cars passing by.

Look out for an old shop named Cinabro Carrettieri that seems a bit dusty from outside but holds a treasure inside. It is here that still build the traditional Sicilian carts for the whole island to this day.

The history of Sicily is narrated through Ragusa’s Museo Archeologico. The museum is located on the first floor of Palazzo Mediterraneo and houses some interesting exhibits from the island. Fascinating artifacts include a well-designed doll with flexible joints from a kid’s grave and the sculpture of Guerriero di Castiglione. 

Evening: 

Another interesting landmark is the impressive Cathedral San Giovanni Battista, which dominates the streets of Ragusa. The wide, intricately carved façade is bounded by a huge bell tower with a spire. Spend the last few at Piazza Duomo sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe like Al Borgo and watch the people pass by.

Don’t forget to check when the last bus leaves for Modica.

Day Five: – a little bit of history!

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Morning

Start at the Cathedral of San Giorgio, the symbolic monument of the Sicilian Baroque architecture, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The interior of the church has five naves, with 22 columns ending with Corinthian capitals. Among the aisles, there is a wonderful organ with four keyboards built between 1885 and 1888 to attract the attention of the visitors. Various paintings embellish the walls of the Church including the Assumption of Paladini, the Nativity of Carlo Cane, and the Madonna of the snow of Mancini and Berrettaro.


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Afternoon

The Cathedral of San Pietro is of equal beauty and charm. It too belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage List, although unfortunately over the centuries it has been repeatedly damaged by various earthquakes. After the earthquake of 1693, the church was restored and today presents three internal naves with 14 columns, a beautifully decorated floor, and an imposing staircase, with statues of the twelve apostles, leading to the entrance. The facade is divided into two orders and enriched by four statues representing San Cataldo, Santa Rosalia, San Pietro, and the Madonna. On the highest point is the statue of Jesus Christ in Triumph.

Evening

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Looking out from the Belvedere located in Via San Benedetto da Norcia offers a panoramic view of both Modica Bassa and Modica Alta with the imposing facade of the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the beautiful staircase that forms the shape of a key (located just in front of your view). At night, when the lights of the city light up and reflect on the clear colors of houses and rocks, this view becomes even more beautiful.

Day Six


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Morning

Among the alleys that branch off behind the Cathedral of San Pietro, the rock church of San Niccolò Inferiore has been discovered, the most important evidence of rock architecture in Modica dating back more than 1000 years. Inside you can admire the enthroned Christ with his angels and the Madonna and the Saints in a cycle of pictorial frescoes of the Byzantine Age.

Afternoon

Another place that deserves to be visited is the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie (located in Largo Mercé). The Sanctuary represents one of the most beloved and suggestive places of worship in the city. On the third Sunday of May, the pilgrims ask for a grace to Our Lady and demonstrate their faith by participating in the procession barefoot and bringing a precious jewel to pledge. It was built starting in 1615 following the miraculous discovery of a slate tablet depicting the Madonna with Child, now kept inside the church, which burned continuously for three days without being damaged.


Outside the town, on the road to reach Scicli, at the foot of the Monserrato hill stands the church of S. Giacomo. This structure should be the oldest church in Modica. Some historians date it back to the fourteenth century which is characterized by a small bell tower, a semicircular apse, two portals with slit windows and inside it holds the remains of a fifteenth-century fresco.

Evening

Return to the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, which has undergone the last restoration in neo-classical style, but, according to some sources, it was the first religious building in the city of Modica. Inside, the church is full of valuable stuccoes, the Statuary Group of Our Lady of Sorrows. Outside, the church boasts an imposing staircase bordered on the sides by twenty-six pillars, which once supported as many statues, while now there are only three. The Church is located in the historical center of the city and the cross that surmounts the spire is the highest point of the entire city with its 449 meters.

Day 7: addio Modica!

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We recommend taking an evening flight out of Modica so you can have a few extra hours to explore the city.

 For the last few hours, we recommend:

·      Have breakfast at Martin Cafè.

·      Visit the Modica Chocolate Museum.

·      Hang out at Palazzo Napolino-Tommasi Rosso.

·      Shop at Mercato dei Prodotti Contadini

Take a taxi from Modica to the Comiso Airport, a trip that will last you about 40-50 minutes. We recommend leaving for the airport at least three hours before your scheduled departure.

Luxury Hotels and Villas List

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We recommend staying on Corso Umberto I, the main street of Modica where most of the major museums, churches, restaurants, and nightlife are located at a walking distance..

Here are some of our top picks on where to stay!

Trip Prep

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FLIGHTS / BUS / TICKETS

The best time to book your flight is anywhere between 50 to 90 days in advance to avoid the unpredictable fluctuations of the prices. If you’re traveling in peak season (the summer months or Christmas and New Year’s), make sure you book well in advance as well. We also do not recommend renting a car in Modica as the streets are quite narrow, and the streets are full of cyclists. We do however recommend renting a scooter for your stay. 

Book Ahead

Although we advise you to book some of your hotels and excursions before you depart, it’s always good to keep somethings spontaneous! Allow yourself the flexibility (and the budget!) to go on an exciting adventure such as an excursion to Mount Etna or book yourself into that boutique hotel you just happen to find.

Insurance

Give yourself peace of mind, and take out some travel insurance for your trip. Although Modica is a safe destination, it’s still best to be covered for the unexpected. Be sure to inform your insurance company if you plan to do some adventure sports.

PASSPORT

No VISA, no problem

US Citizens are able to travel to European countries in the Schengen zone without a visa for up to 90 days. The requirements for entry are simple; make sure your passport is valid for three months after departure and you have two blank pages for stamps.

Electricity

Most people tend to forget to pack an outlet adapter and/or converter. You definitely need an outlet adapter, so we recommend getting a universal one that works around most cities in Europe and the UK as well. If you have any curlers or hair dryers with you, we also recommend using a voltage converter. 

Phones

International: Dial the international access code (001 in US, 00 in Europe), then the country code (39 for Italy) then the number. Drop the initial 0 if there is one. 

Domestic: If you’re calling from one number to another within the same European country simply dial the phone number, including the initial 0 if there is one. No country code needed.

Packing Made Simple!

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Packing will completely depend on when you are visiting. For winter, bring warm clothes, gloves, mittens, beanies, jackets and lots of layers. For summer, bring lighter clothes, dresses, light shirts.

  1. Remember your camera, charger, memory card and power adapter. Be well equipped to capture all of the beautiful sites when wandering the city.

  2. Pack your shampoo, toothpaste and any other liquids in ziplock bags in case they spill in transit. However, these are items you can always acquire once you’re in Modica.

  3. Pack light - using packing cubes and roll your clothes!

  4. Your insurance, passport, copies of tickets and copies of your insurance. 

  5. Very comfortable shoes - you will be walking a lot and the streets need comfortable shoes. Skip the heels. 

  6. Be sure to have cash on hand—it’s not uncommon to find cash-only restaurants and shops, even in major cities.

Booking Checklist 

Flight

For this itinerary, allow 6 nights, 7 days.

  • ARRIVE: COMISO (FCO) in the morning of DAY 1

  • DEPART: COMISO (FCO) in the evening of DAY 7

Lodging

Modica has plenty of lodging options available that cater to all types of tastes. From luxury and boutique hotels to B&Bs, AirBnB’s and hostels - the options are endless. Most places in Modica are also very well-connected to the center, so you won’t have trouble navigating around. 


Modica, Italy  | DAY 1 - 7, 6 nights

Tickets & Reservations:

  1. Rent a scooter in Modica

  2. UNESCO World Heritage guided tour

 

Recommended Airlines & Routes 

From the U.S

Book a flight to Comiso via Rome. The main carriers from the U.S are Alitalia, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Norwegian Airlines, KLM, Air France and Delta Airlines and each have their own advantages. The best airline completely depends on which airline has the best deals at the time you’re traveling. There are direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami.

From Europe

We recommend Lufthansa for flights in Europe due to their exceptional customer service and baggage handling. They also offer great in-flight entertainment and a clean, polished interior. 

Apps, Transportation & The ‘Gram

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Tripadvisor | One of the best city guides to use while in Modica with real reviews from people. It’s a great app if you want to find less-touristy things to do or if you want to explore areas around you. 

TRANSIT BOOKING SITES

The Gram

Sicily Essence @sicily.essence

Sicilia @visit__sicily

Sicily @topsicilyphoto

#sicily #modica #visitsicily #italy #sicilyfood #vivomodica #sicily_it

Most Instagrammable Spots in Modica:

  • Duomo of San Giorgio

  • Castello dei Conti

  • Church of San Pietro

  • Cava Misericordia

  • Chiesa di San Nicolò Inferiore

  • Saint Maria of Betlem

 

Destination Facts 

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  • Modica was rebuilt after the destructive earthquake of 1693.

    • e city was founded in 1360 BC.

    • The Arabs captured Modica during the Muslim conquest of Sicily in 845 AD.

    • The economy was once mainly agricultural. New factories producing textiles, cars, and furniture have propped up now.

    • Modica is famous for its chocolate, produced with the original ancient Aztec recipe.

    • The famous Italian TV series, Inspector Montalbano, was shot in Modica.

    • Modica is also known as the "city of a hundred churches".

    • The locals rarely leave a tip. However, people working in the tourism industry expect some for of gratuity.

    • Over 80% of the land in Sicily is mountainous. 

    • Set your watch to GMT+2

    • Modica is 174 miles from Palermo, the capital of Sicily.