«… Modica. Sentieri velati da un tratto di eterno: basole fra scorci di storica passione; a passi tardi rinvengo in cor mio, nascituro sguardo che soave m’attrista…»
(S. Quasimodo)

Modica is a baroque town located in Val di Noto, in the south east of Sicily. In 2002 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built in the Neolithic age, it was the capital of a powerful county, boasting a rich tradition of culinary specialties and a great artistic and cultural heritage. Today, Modica is well known for the production of its typical chocolate, which has Aztec origins
The historic centre, which has been entirely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, is composed by two big districts: Modica Alta and Modica Bassa. Today, walking through the streets of Modica means walking in the history, through late baroque palaces, churches, majestic staircases and great artworks.
The countryside of the area of Modica, characterized by a network of dry-stone walls marking the limits of each plot, is scattered by carob trees, olive trees, prickly pears and gives very suggestive landscapes.
Modica is the perfect place for your holidays in Sicily, an excellent starting point to visit the baroque towns of Val di Noto and swim into the limpid waters of its coast rich in golden beaches.


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What to see in Modica

The streets of the baroque district

Curious to visit Modica and its historic centre?
Discover with us its treasures and take note of the most interesting tours to plan your holiday.
The city centre has a unique structure and extends along a valley to clamber then the surrounding hills. In the limestone rocks of the hills, which are typical of this territory, the inhabitants “dug” their houses and graves during centuries, so much so that today there are almost 700 caves.
Visit the necropolis Quartiriccio, in the historic centre, and the district Vignazza, with a few tens tombs dug into the rock, dating back to the 2200 BC.
The historic centre is a maze of little houses, tiny streets and long staircases enveloped around the spur of the hill Pizzo, on which the Castle stands.
The main churches, that is the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the Church of San Pietro, do not overlook usually over a square, but over a majestic and spectacular staircase climbing up the slopes. The main architectural style is the late baroque.

Monuments and churches

Modica preserves a so high number of churches that has been dubbed “the city of a hundred churches”. We suggest you the most beautiful and interesting churches from an architectural point of view, besides some of the most important noble palaces of the town.

The Cathedral of San Giorgio is the most important and majestic church of Modica, often indicated as a symbolic monument of the Sicilian baroque.
The church of San Giorgio, which is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is the final result of different and wise reconstructions happened after devastating earthquakes, the last of which was in 1693. You will be astonished watching the 36 meter-high dome and going up the spectacular staircase with 164 steps.
A little curiosity: if you want to admire the amazing view of the church and its staircase, go to the facing hill, where the district Cartellone rises.
On the left side of the Cathedral there is Palazzo Polara, a late seventeenth-century noble palace in late baroque style, on whose pediment stands the family crest with the North Star.
Going further up, you reach Pizzo Belvedere, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city.

The Church of San Pietro is the most important of the city, together with the Cathedral of San Giorgio. Both of them enjoy the title of Mother Church. This duality is the symbol of an ancient rivalry between the two quarters, each one belonging to a parish.
Worth visiting is the Church of Santa Maria del Gesù and its cloister, together with a conventual complex dating back to the second half of the fifteenth century.
One of the most interesting noble palaces of Modica is Palazzo Grimaldi, the most beautiful example of neo-renaissance style among the buildings overlooking the historic centre.

The Church of San Giovanni Evangelista is located in Modica Alta and presents a beautiful facade in late baroque style with a majestic and wide staircase preceding the entrance.

Another wonderful baroque building is the former Monastero delle Benedettine, now Palazzo della Cultura, hosting the Museo Civico Archeologico and a collection of pictures belonged to the Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo.

The Church of Santa Maria del Carmelo preserves some features prior to the earthquake of 1693, such as a portal dating back to the fourteenth century. It is one of the very few monuments resisted to the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed great part of eastern Sicily.

The Church of Santa Maria di Betlem is one of the three ancient collegiate churches of the city and it dates back to the fourteenth century. Its Palatine Chapel is a national monument, being part of the list of heritage to protect, established around 1930 by the government of the Kingdom of Italy. A very interesting piece is the Porale De Leva, a portal in gothic style dating back to the early fourteenth century.

Finally, worth visiting is the theatre Garibaldi, an elegant late nineteenth-century building.
If you have more than one day to visit Modica, we suggest you some interesting places located just outside the historic centre.

On the top of one of the hills overlooking the historic centre, there is an eighteenth-century convent, the Convento dei Frati Cappuccini. Go visit this beautiful and perfectly preserved Franciscan complex, its cloister and the Church of San Francesco.

The tower of clock

The Castello dei Conti, a fortification built on the top of a rocky hill with overhanging walls, has represented for centuries the seat of the political and administrative power of the ancient County of Modica. In front of the castle stands the tower of the clock, the last ruin of a medieval lookout tower.

Today the tower of the clock has become a symbol of the city and you can find it in the shops as a souvenir to bring back home.


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Things to see nearby

The territory of Modica is littered with archaeological and naturalistic areas of great interest.
Cava d’Ispica has, in its 13 km of length, several testimonies of different ages: from the small Siculan oven-shaped tombs of the Bronze age, to the Christian catacombs of the fifth century AD, besides frescoes on the rocky walls of the “Grotta dei Santi” and the ruins of the Byzantine Church of S. Pancrati. Remarkable is the catacomb of Larderia, a hypogeal cemetery that preserves around 464 tombs divided into three underground tunnels. The area is actually a “city into the rock”: nearby the caves inhabited by people or domestic animals, there were also caves used as warehouses and places of worship with altars and frescoes. Very beautiful also from the naturalistic point of view, Cava d’Ispica is suitable for walking and trekking. It presents a very luxuriant vegetation populated by several species of birds.
Nearby there is Cava Lazzaro, another area rich in caves and naturalistic paths. Here some findings, now preserved in the civic museum of Modica, have been discovered.
Finally, Cava dei Servi: an alternation of overhanging rocky walls, flat areas and deep canyons where the stream Tellesimo flows. This area is part of an easily accessible natural park ideal for walking.
If you want to have a swim, the coast of Modica offers beautiful golden sandy beaches, such as the ones of Marina di Modica and Maganuco. Both of them have equipped beaches and boasts crystal waters and shallow seabed, ideal for a family holiday with children.
A few kilometers away, you can visit the beautiful baroque towns of Val di Noto: Scicli, Ragusa Ibla and Noto. From Modica you can easily reach Syracuse, Marzamemi and its wonderful beaches, such as the ones inside the Nature Reserve of Vendicari.


What to do in Modica

During your holiday in Modica you will not get bored. Besides the interesting baroque monuments, the city offers events, shows and traditional festivals taking place in different periods of the years. We recommend you some you must not miss.
The tourism in Modica has known a great growth for different reasons. First of all, the recognition of the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the enhancement and promotion of the chocolate of Modica have contributed to make Modica known worldwide. Moreover, if you are a fan of the tv series “Inspector Montalbano”, you will certainly know the places where it is filmed. In Modica you can recognize some of the locations where Montalbano conducts its investigations. If you love shopping, Modica offers one of the most renowned commercial areas of the province, with numerous shops and shopping malls, located in the district of Sacro Cuore.
In the evening, you can have a walk in Corso Umberto I and go in one of the many pubs of the historic centre, which is always lively and full of people. Corso Umberto I and Piazza Matteotti are the heart of the nightlife: walk along this wide street rich in coffee bars, pubs and restaurants that are open until late at night. Be captured by the spectacularity of the baroque monuments lighten by the warm lights of the city.

Events and shows

The Teatro Garibaldi, with its 313 seats, is the cultural place par excellence. It offers very interesting shows of prose, music and opera that can meet all tastes. If you love theatre, go and see a show inside this elegant building of the late nineteenth century.

Traditional festivals
Madonna VasaVasa

The feast of “Madonna Vasa Vasa” takes place in the morning of Easter Sunday. It is a very ancient tradition dating back around 1645. The simulacrums of the Virgin and Jesus Christ are taken in procession separately through the streets of the city. At 12 o’clock, the Virgin meets Jesus Christ: the wooden statue of Mary, which has moving arms like the typical Sicilian puppets, is freed from his black cape as soon as she meets his Son and a tens white doves, previously hidden into the base of the simulacrum, take flight. At this point, the Virgin “embraces” Jesus Christ and “kisses” him: from this gesture the feast takes its name.

Feast of San Giorgio

The feast of the patron San Giorgio takes place on 23rd April, if it is Sunday. Otherwise, it is celebrated on the first Sunday after the main date. The simulacrum of San Giorgio killing the dragon is taken on the shoulder through the historic centre. After that, the procession goes back to the Cathedral around 23:00, ending with some turns into the church.

Living Nativity Scene

During Christmas time, a living nativity scene is represented through the alleys of one of the ancient districts of the historic centre. Sometimes, the archaeologic area of Cava d’Ispica is chosen as location, a perfect and suggestive frame for this event, thanks to the presence of several caves.


Street markets and food festivals

Here you will attend the show of the chocolate of Modica: how is it made?
The Chocomodica, a local version of the Eurochocolate that takes place in Perugia, is a food festival dedicated to the artisanal production of chocolate. It has contributed to insert Modica in the network of gastronomic tourism.
It takes place during the holiday bridge of Immaculate Conception in December. This event is the perfect occasion to visit the city, by taking part in guided tours and tasting the local confectionery specialties. Moreover, there is a series of conferences and events focused on cocoa, on the typical chocolate and confectionery products for which Modica is renowned.
The chocolate of Modica is made by following an ancient Aztec receipt, from which the receipt of Modica should derive, dating back around 1746, when Sicily was part of the Kingdom of Spain. Its production is still strictly handmade. The particularity of this chocolate is in the cocoa paste that does not melt with sugar, creating a grainy dark chocolate that does not liquefy at summer temperatures.
Taste this unique chocolate and you will realize that it is possible to distinguish its three components: cocoa, sugar and spices (cinnamon and vanilla in the typical receipt).

Food festival of the carob

It takes place in Frigintini, a countryside hamlet of Modica, in September or October. You can taste typical specialties with carobs: lolli (a kind of fresh pasta cooked in carob syrup and covered with ground and toasted almonds), ice-cream, biscuits, candies and the typical scaccia from Ragusa.

Where to eat in Modica

Gastronomic specialties of the Val di Noto

Even if the baroque towns of the province of Ragusa are very close to each other, each one has often developed its own culinary tradition with unique features and flavours: this is the case, for example, of the ‘mpanatigghi, typical pastries of Modica. Below, we suggest you some good places to try the culinary specialties of Modica.

Restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias
  • Osteria dei sapori Perduti
    ▼ Corso Umberto I, 228
    ☎ +39 0932 944247
  • Putia ro Vinu
    ▼ via Carlo Pisacane, 34
    ☎ +39 0932 944157
  • Taverna Nicastro
    ▼ via Sant’Antonino, 30
    ☎ +39 0932 945884
  • Ristorante pizzeria La Contea
    ▼ Via Clemente Grimaldi, 15/17
    ☎ +39 0932 944812
  • Pizzeria La Perla
    ▼ Via Giardina, 41
    ☎ +39 0932 755654
  • Acqua e Farina Pizzeria
    ▼ via Vittorio Veneto 14
    ☎ +39 0932 945125
Coffee bars, ice cream parlours and cake shops
  • Gelateria degli Angeli
    ▼ Corso Umberto I, 119
    ☎ +39 0932 196 1208
  • Rosy bar
    ▼ Via Risorgimento, 4b
    ☎ +39 0932 906649

For the chocolate of Modica, in Corso Umberto I (Modica Bassa) there are many chocolateries and cake shops, some of which are historical and strictly artisanal. We recommend:

  • Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
  • Caffè dell’Arte
  • Antica Dolceria Rizza
  • L’Arte del Cioccolato Torrone Cannolo

Where is it and how to get to Modica

Modica is about 15 km from Ragusa, in the south east of Sicily, and rises on a hill cut through by deep canyons. The city is located at the confluence of three streams dividing the upland in four hills: Pizzo to the north, Idria to the west, Giganta to the east and Monserrato to the south.

By car

You can reach Modica by car from Catania proceeding along the state road SS 194 and following the direction to Syracuse. Then take the direction to Modica.
From Palermo take the highway A 19 Palermo-Catania to Caltanissetta, proceed along the state road SS 626 until Gela and then take the SS 115 to Modica.
From Agrigento take the coastal road SS 115 to Caltanissetta and follow the direction Gela-Ragusa.
From Syracuse take the SS 115 to Noto and Ragusa.
The car is the best way to reach Modica, in order to travel in total autonomy, due to the lack of public means. If you arrive by plane, we recommend you to hire a car at the airport.

Parking areas

Parking in the historic centre of Modica could be difficult if you do not know well the area.
Here are some useful information that will help you during your stay in this beautiful baroque town. First of all, if you go to Corso Umberto I or nearby, we suggest you to park in the free parking areas of Viale Medaglie d’Oro or Piazzale Falcone e Borsellino.
Otherwise, if you go shopping in via Sacro Cuore, go to the free parking areas of Piazzale Beniamino Scucces or near the municipal swimming pool.
The areas marked by blue lines are paid parking areas.

By bus

You can reach Modica from Catania by the Etna Trasporti and from Palermo by the AST lines. The bus terminal is located in Piazzale Falcone e Borsellino.

From the airport

The nearest airports to Modica are Catania (100 km) and Comiso (40 km), offering excellent connections by bus, shuttle service or by taxi. To reach Modica from Catania Airport take the Etna Trasporti line from the Arrivals Terminal, where you can buy the ticket. From Comiso Airport you can take thea Tumino line. You can buy the ticket on the bus.
We do not recommend flying to the airports of Trapani (300 km) and Palermo (250 km), because they are very far from Modica. Moreover, there is a lack of adequate connections to the south east of Sicily and hiring a car may be expensive.

By train

The railway line that runs through the municipal territory and serves the city of Modica is the Syracuse-Gela-Canicattì railway. The line is a simple non-electrified track. The service takes place in the daytime.
The train station of Modica is located at the end of Via Vittorio Veneto, near the Convent of the Capuchins.