Kathryn, from our Marketing Department, explores the late Baroque town of Modica, discovering great chocolate, stunning architecture and many more edible treats along the way.
Modica was one of the first places I ever visited in Sicily and though my visit was brief, I will always have a soft spot for this Baroque town in the south-east corner of the island. Like many other towns of the Noto valley it was completely destroyed by the 1693 earthquake and then re-built in the stunning Late Baroque style that the area is so well-known for.
There are many things to do in Modica for the curious traveller not least some beautiful architecture but you’ll also find some great restaurants and then there is the chocolate which has been made here for over two centuries.
Things to do in Modica
A. Casa del Formaggio
Via Marchesa Tedeschi, 5
This fabulous little cheese shop is the perfect place to pick up some edible souvenirs. The friendly and informative owner speaks good English and will be happy for you to sample various cheeses and then vacuum pack your purchases so you can pop them in your suitcase for the journey home. He also sells some excellent cured meats and wine.
B. Cave Church of St Nicholas the Inferior
Via Clemente Grimaldi
This unusual small church with a single nave is carved into the rock and decorated with still colourful Byzantine style frescoes from the Norman era.
C. Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
Corso Umberto I, 159
You can’t visit Modica and not try some chocolate. Antica Dolceria Bonajuto is the oldest chocolate manufacturers in the town dating back to 1880. Its founder, Francesco Bonajuto, brought cakes and sweets of Arabian and Spanish origin to Modica in order to preserve the art of which he was a master having learned his skills from his father.
Their cannoli are also superb.
D. Momo Reading Food
Corso Umberto I, 163
If you’re not too full of cheese, chocolate and cannoli, Momo’s is the perfect place to visit for a coffee or a light lunchtime snack of arancini or panini. It’s popular with the locals which is always a good sign and the owner speaks English.
E. Church of San Pietro
Corso Umberto I
While not as grand as the Church of San Giorgio further up the hill, the Church of San Pietro is still very beautiful with an elegant facade and a lovely view across the valley to the houses climbing up the opposite hillside. Statues of the apostles oversee the comings and goings of the church. The interior is quite lovely with 14 columns of Corinthian capitals and beautiful detailing.
F. Church of San Giorgio
Corso S. Giorgio
Watching over the upper town (Modica Alta) the church of San Giorgio easily equals the grandeur of the church of the same name in Ragusa Ibla. An impressive flight of stone steps leads up from Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, around a small garden that is bisected by Via Lanterni up to Corso San Giorgio bringing you to the final flight of stairs. It’s well worth the climb to see the façade, one of the most striking examples of Baroque architecture in all of Italy. It was designed by Paolo Labisi, although its resemblance to work by Gagliardi suggest he was a strong influence on Labisi's designs.
G. Antica Dolceria Rizza
Corso Umberto I, 268,
If in need of sustenance after climbing all those stairs, there’s another chocolatiers not to be missed nearby on Corso Umberto I, Antica Dolceria Rizza. They even offer guided tours and workshops which can be pre-booked with Master Peppe Rizza. You’ll find more information on their website, Antica Dolceria Rizza.
F. Osteria dei Sapori Perduti
Corso Umberto I, 228A
Modica is certainly a great town for foodies but do remember to leave some room for dinner as there are some excellent restaurants here offering traditional Sicilian food typical of the area.
Osteria dei Sapori Perduti is one of my favourites. At first glance you might assume that this restaurant on the main thoroughfare through the town is a tourist trap to be avoided. Not so. The locals love the typical Sicilian cuisine served here. You can expect a lively atmosphere, good service and great local food and wine for a very reasonable price. The perfect place to relax and eat your fill at the end of the day.
When I ate here earlier this year they had a wonderful menu translated into five languages with tantalising photos and a suggested wine to match each dish, so ordering was easy even for those with no grasp of Italian. There is just one starter, Antipastu Miscatu, a mixed plate including arancini, bruschette, grilled aubergine, cheeses, caponata and sausage.
Follow this with a first course of pasta such as Ravioli ri Ricotta – sumptuous parcels of pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese, smothered in a tasty tomato sauce with fennel and diced pork. For a second course try U Cunigghju â Stimpirata, roasted rabbit served with vegetables lightly fried in olive oil, vinegar with mint. If you still have room for desert they’ve a fabulous selection to tempt you from cannoli, pastachio parfait or Sicilian cassata. There are a number of vegetarian options for the first course including Pasta Cche Sparici, asparagus pasta or Linticchja, a thick broth made with lentils, tomatoes, onion, celery and carrots but only one second course, I Milinciani Cunzati, fried aubergines layered with cheese, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes baked in the oven.
Sicilian Places offers a wonderful selection of hotels, villas and apartments in the Val di Noto, for more information and to book visit, SicilianPlaces.co.uk.
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