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Modica: Still nights, Aztec Chocolate and Golden Buildings

Posted by Suzanne on 22 Jul 2017



A Trip to Modica:

I travelled from Polizzi, in early May, to spend some nights in Modica, in Sicily’s Baroque South East.

Two nights became three and, three was a great introduction to a town once referred to as the “Venice of the South”, famous for chocolate and golden Baroque buildings.


Set in a gorge and natural disasters:

Set in the Hyblaean Mountains Modica has survived two natural disasters: the devastating 1693 earthquake and the mighty 1902 flood. Modica rises up steep hillsides from a gorge once fed with water from two rivers which converged into one and the town is divided into two parts; upper Modica (Alta) and a lower Modica (Bassa).

The wide main street, Corso Umberto 1 is the centre of lower Modica, Modica Bassa. And over a century ago numerous bridges spanned the rivers. The early 20th century flood resulted in floodwaters reaching 9 metres at the meeting of the two rivers, the Scicli River. The rivers were filled in and became the town's main streets. (Michelin Guide Sicily)


Three nights of quiet discovery in Modica:

Photos of the town’s dramatic 1902 flood on a restaurant wall; the unique sugary style chocolate made from a centuries old Aztec recipe;

A tiny hidden bnb with a courtyard garden and old blue and white tiles; listening to a recording of  a moving poem written by the Noble Prize poet Salvatore Quasimodo, read by him;



A long sweeping staircase leading to the imposing Cathedral of San Giorgio: ornate golden buildings; delicious modern food inspired by Sicilian tradition and also plates of tasty traditional fare; a local pastry filled with minced meat and chocolate; small discrete restaurants; chocolate shops;

Still evenings; a beautifully detailed 22cm ancient bronze statue of Hercules; empty old houses; silent streets and a town which at night glows like a nativity scene.

I enjoyed my nights in Modica. 



Some traveller’s notes on Modica:


To Stay:

The tiny three room bnb, Le Lumie B&B set in a hidden, charming garden not far from the Cathedral of San Giorgio. It is tucked in behind a wrought iron gate and high wall with views out over the gorge to the hillsides which rise from the old river bed. Breakfast is served in the garden. Tea and coffee can be made at any hour. The owner, Anna loves her town and it was Anna who said that Modica is like a presepe (nativity scene) at night. Via Alessandro Grana, 106.

To Eat and Drink:

1.           Locanda Del Colonnello, Vico Biscari, 6 in Modica Alta good modern Sicilian food and wines in an uncluttered white setting. It is in a small side street and if coming from Modica Bassa the walk up hill at night is particularly lovely. Booking is recommended.

2.           Accursio Ristorante in Via Clemente Grimaldi, 41 in Modica Bassa. It is Michelin star spot. It is very smart and quite informal and sits in a lovely back street just off Corso Umberto 1. It only seats about 20, has a pared back almost Danish style interior and serves very good modern Sicilian food and wine. A tip: if you order coffee it comes with a tiny box filled with small delicious sweet bits like a mini cannolo. If this is still served it is almost a dessert in itself. So no need to order dessert really (unless you want to). It is expensive but a treat. Definitely book.

3.           Osteria Sapori Perduti, on the main street of Modica Bassa, Corso Umberto, 228-230. It is inexpensive with a warm, casual atmosphere and serves tasty traditional Sicilian food.

4.           Hemingway Bar on Via Clemente Grimaldi, Modica Bassa some tables set on the narrow street, nice wine and antipasto. Very relaxed.

5.           La Contea via Clemente Grimaldi, Modica Bassa quite big and the pizza is good; a pleasant, white interior.

6.           Bisboccia is a casual restaurant at no. 2 Corso Mazzini, Modica Bassa. It serves a very good Sicilian beer called Tari which is made in Modica. Bisboccia has a modern feel and the food is simple and tasty. Good for a light lunch.

7.           Wine Rappa Enoteca around the corner from the restaurant Locando Del Colonnello on Corso Santa Teresa 97 -99. Good Sicilian wines in a lovely old building. Wine by the glass. Nice late at night.


Modica Chocolate:

1.           Sabadi: is not to be missed. It is on Corso San Giorgio 105, near the Cathedral of San Giorgio. Good chocolate with a huge selection of flavours. The interior is fabulous.

2.           The small bar Bar del Duomo next to the main church, San Giorgio, to the side and the rear, serves a good Modica hot chocolate and a spot to sit after viewing the Cathedral of San Giorgio. Here I tried Impanatiglia a Modica sweet filled with minced meat and chocolate. It was good.

3.           Antico Bonajuto, said to be the oldest chocolate maker in Sicily, is on via Corso Umberto 159 and is worth a stop. Good Modica chocolate and the cannolo is delicious.


Poetry, Hercules and Views:

1.     Visit the Museo Civico on Corso Umberto in the town hall if only to see the intricate ancient bronze statue of Hercules. It is 22cms high and is really beautiful. Found in a field in the late 1960’s it is thought to be from the 3rd century BC.

2.      The house of the Nobel Prize winning Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo’s birth is worth a visit if only to hear his heart felt reading of a beautiful poem (in Italian) to his mother. It is called “Lettera alla Madre”. The house is on Via Posteria 84.

3.     Climb to the top of the belltower of the church of San Giorgio for a view of Modica from beneath the bells.




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