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Visit Modica

The town of Modica runs down the side of a steep hill in south-eastern Sicily, a little way inland from the coast and between Ispica and Ragusa. Modica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Val di Noto group for its excellent Baroque architecture.

Explore Modica

Sicily Visitor comment: Modica is a charming town which rises up on each side of a valley with each side offering great views over the other side. Its beautiful baroque architecture is a treat and it also makes fabulous chocolate!

In common with many towns in this region, Modica was very badly affected by earthquakes in the 17th century, in 1613 and 1693 - the second of these had a particularly devastating effect on the town. As a result, much of the town was rebuilt in the years after 1693, in the baroque style that was popular at the time - hence Modica now contains many fine examples of Sicilian baroque architecture, perhaps above all in the church reconstructions.

Modica church

Modica climbs steeply up a hillside with all its houses and churches lining narrow paths and steep steps. Its baroque treasures are spread throughout the town which is a pleasure to amble round.

There are several noteworthy churches in Modica with the Church of Saint George (Chiesa San Giorgio) being the highlight - after numerous rebuildings and reconstructions over the centuries the church now has a very impressive baroque facade, very representative of the style and a monumental staircase leads to the church. The interior of the church is very ornate and contains important paintings and a 'Holy Ark' embellished with silver and containing relics of Saints.

Another key church is the Church of Saint Peter (Chiesa di San Pietro) whose steps are flanked by statues of the saints. This church too is in Baroque style and has an ornate interior with important art works.

Among the other churches of interest are the the Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso; the Church of Saint Mary of Bethlehem and the Carmine church (the lower part of the facade of this church pre-dates the earthquake). The Convent of Saint Mary of Jesus is notable as a building that dates from the 15th century i.e. it survived the earthquake of 1693.

Also very interesting is the rock church of San Nicolo Inferiore which is a Byzantine cave church that was only discovered in 1987 by a boy playing football and his ball found its way into the cave. The church is only 9 meters long and contains frescoes from the 12th, 14th and 16th century.

As well as the churches Modica has a fine castle, the Castle of the Modica Counts, which sits at the top of the town along a ridge with great views over the lower town. In the castle are the watchtower and the original prison. During the season various events take place at the castle.

Other examples of local architecture can be seen in the grand town houses ('palaces') such as the Grimaldi Palace (now the Modica Art Gallery), the baroque style Tommasi Rosso Palace, and the Manenti and Tedeschi Palaces.

There is a civic museum with archeological items from Modica and nearby and of particular interest a bronze statuette of Hercules thought to date back to the 3rd century.

Modica is divided into upper Modica and lower Modica. Upper Modica is the older part of the town with some of the main religious monuments and the castle but the town is much busier in the lower parts. In lower Modica you will find the Corso Umberto, one of the main streets in the town and home to the tourist office and a number of churches and palaces. It is also full of bars and restaurants and is one of the liveliest parts of the town.

Modica

Take a walk up the hill on the other side of Corso Umberto. The pretty streets wind uphill and offer great views back over both Lower and Upper Modica clinging to the hillside on the other side.

Modica is famous for its chocolate and has a chocolate festival every year in the autumn. The event includes lots of chocolate products and even chocolate massages!

The baroque architecture of Modica means it is now listed and protected as one of the towns in the Val di Noto World Heritage Site.

Where to visit nearby?

An unusual feature to discover near Modica are the 'rock churches' - churches built into and in front of caves in the rock. You can see these at Santa Venera - a 14th century rock church containing some frescoes; and at Cava Ddieri, in a cave that was previously used by the ancient Romans as a necropolis.

The nearby towns of Scicli, Ragusa, Noto and Palazzolo-Acreide are also beautiful baroque towns of the Val di Noto heritage site.

You can find more local travel ideas in the South-East Sicily guide and the guide.

See also:

Photos of Modica

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Map of Modica and places to visit

Modica places to visit

Scicli

Scicli

Scicli is a beautiful Baroque town.

>> Scicli guide
Ragusa

Ragusa

Ragusa is a beautiful Baroque town.

>> Ragusa guide
Ispica

Ispica

Ispica is a hilltown and home to Sicano castle carved into the rock.

>> Ispica guide
Comiso

Comiso

Comiso is home to the Castle of the Naselli.

>> Comiso guide
Akrai

Akrai

Akrai is home to an ancient Greek settlement.

>> Akrai guide
Palazzolo-Acreide

Palazzolo-Acreide

Palazzolo Acreide is one of the most beautiful villages of Sicily.

>> Palazzolo-Acreide guide
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