baroque, sweets and chocolate
A sky-gazing Baroque spirit, elegant World Heritage monuments, its unmistakable light, traditional sweets and typical chocolate make Modica a must-see destination of the “Enjoy Barocco” Destination. The city owes its current appearance to the 1693 earthquake, subsequent reconstruction, and an important history that saw it as the capital of a powerful county until the early 1800s.
The city’s historic center is developed between Modica Alta and Modica Bassa. The oldest core of the city is the one perched on the hill, around the Castle of the Counts and the scenic Cathedral of St. George. The neighborhood above has the appearance of an eternal nativity scene, made up of quaint little houses climbing up the hill. Below, within narrow valleys, the city found new space for development after the earthquake that destroyed southeastern Sicily in 1693. Here St. Peter’s Church is undoubtedly the most important monument, and the statues of the twelve apostles on the steps stand monumental and imposing.
Moving away from the city center, through a lush and bright countryside full of dry stone walls, carob and olive trees, one reaches the sea. Marina di Modica is the city’s seaside hamlet with large beaches over which the Blue Flag flies. The sea, monuments, gastronomic excellence and cultural fervor make Modica an unmissable salon, an important and must-see travel destination. This is where Montalbano, Italy’s most famous Inspector who conducted many of his adventurous investigations in the city, passed through in recent years.
The riches of Modica
Matteotti Square and Carmine Church
Along Corso Umberto, the main street in the lower part of the city, is Matteotti Square. This is overlooked by the large Carmine Convent, now an exhibition center, the Pietro Floridia Auditorium, and the Carmine Church. The church partially withstood the 1693 earthquake and shows late Gothic remains in the main portal and beautiful rose window.
Palace of Culture
Formerly a Benedictine Sisters’ Monastery, today it is the city’s Civic Museum where archaeological artifacts and other works of art from the civic collection are kept. Among the most valuable pieces is the Heracles of Capheus, a bronze statuette dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE that depicts the hero after his first toil
St. Peter’s Church
A wide staircase with large statues of the twelve apostles introduces St. Peter’s Cathedral. The façade is a harmonious example of the local Baroque, and the interior is a triumph of colors and decorations reminiscent of Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical culture.
Where there was a warehouse in the mid-19th century, an elegant theater with a Neoclassical elevation, three tiers of boxes and the gallery will be built. Even today it is still the center of the city’s cultural life despite a period of decline in which it will also become a cinema. After restoration in the late 1990s, it is again shown in its elegant beauty.
Rock Church of St. Nicholas
It is probably the oldest surviving church in Modica. Entirely dug into the rock it holds a well-preserved ancient rock painting cycle. Tucked away in the alleys of lower Modica, it is definitely a jewel worth discovering.
Castle of the Counts
Emblematic witness to the ancient military fortress and residence of the Counts of Modica . The entire castle area was modified after the 1693 earthquake when it became the home of the city’s governor. From the courtyards and terraces there are stupendous views of the city and you can reach the Clock Tower, the icon of Modica.
Church of St. John
The highest point in the city is touched by the spire above St. John’s Church. The building lends elegance to the Modica Alta neighborhood and is its main church. The refined elevation built in the late 19th century combines late Baroque elements with neoclassical trends
Jesus Church and Convent
Not well known among the wonders of the city Modica because it was a prison since 1866, but it is certainly one of the most important and fascinating, now one of the most visited sites and a space for theater, art, and contemporary music. Passing through the complex of St. Mary of Jesus, one can read the history of the city from the 15th century to the present day. The cloister, punctuated by columns all different, alone is worth the visit!
Church of St. Mary of Bethlehem
Earthquakes and floods have characterized the history of this church, which blends classical and Gothic elements. At the end of the right aisle is the unmissable Gothic-style Conti Chapel, in the right aisle is the beautiful nativity scene with terracotta statues from Caltagirone
Cathedral of St. George
It is the symbolic monument of Modica and one of the most important Baroque architectures in the Val di Noto. At the top of an elegant multi-flight staircase, the elevation soars high into the sky with sinuous progression. Inside it holds many treasures, among them an important 16th-century polyptych and a sundial
The city is famous for culinary wisdom and for Modica Chocolate, a unique delicacy that recently received IGP (protected geographical indication) recognition. Unlike elsewhere, in Modica chocolate is still processed cold, maintaining aromas and flavors that are lost with high-temperature processing, resulting in a more granular and intense chocolate. There are still dozens of chocolate shops today that offer the typical chocolate bars flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, chili and other spices.
Sea and Nature in Modica: beaches and excursions