Road Trip: Ragusa and Modica, Sicily
In this day you will discover two wonderful Baroque towns that belong to the ‘Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto’ Unesco Heritage site : Ragusa and Modica, Sicily.
Ragusa is one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. Ragusa is a town with two faces: a modern one featured by wide streets and the old smaller one known as “Ibla” in the Baroque style, featured by sparkling narrow streets, stairways and irregular squares.
The two halves are separated by a deep ravine (Valle dei Ponti). The town’s archaeological museum and its everyday shops and businesses are in Ragusa Superiore.
Ibla is the most charming part to visit: there is so much to see in Ragusa Ibla that you could simply wander around and stumble at will upon town mansions, quiet gardens, pleasant squares, good cafés, excellent restaurants and Baroque churches. There are some sights you absolutely must tick off.
The first is the Chiesa del Purgatorio, then the sloping palm-lined Piazza del Duomo, the magnificent three-tiered facade of the Cathedral dI San Giorgio and the superb town park Giardino Ibleo at the eastern end of the city – wonderful for an evening stroll or to rest during the heat of the day.
The public garden at the end of the main road “Corso XXV. Aprile” is a green and shady refuge on hot Sicilian summer days. It features high palm trees, Mediterranean plants, the church Chiesa dei Cappucini (church of the capuchins) with a 17th century wing altar, and stunning views of the valley of the river Irminio and its surrounding canyons. It’s the perfect place for a romantic sunset!
If you’re here for classic Sicilian peace and beauty, then the best places to stay in Ragusa are the historic alleyways. For a great experience, stay at The Locanda Don Serafino, an elegant and atmospheric hotel located in an old small building of ‘800 century fully restored.
It hosts ten elegant and comfortable rooms, a charming place with only 22 beds for highly demanding guests. The hotel is cut right into the rocks of the town! Unique as its restaurant “Locanda Don Serafino”, one of the best restaurants in Sicily, located at few meters from the hotel.
- Take the little tourist train (trenino). It departs from Piazza Duomo and is an entertaining way of touring the principal streets.
- Visit the magnificent Baroque palaces and palazzos situated on the slopes of the hill.
- Wander through the winding alleyways and cobblestoned streets.
- Don’t miss the Local Festival: The Feast of St. George, which takes place in Ragusa Ibla on the last Sunday of May, is a religious event highly felt by the locals. The most awaited moment of this festival is the so-called “Ballad of the Saint”: the bearers of the saint raise it to the sky with outstretched arms, to the call of “All Trounu” to indicate that it is the patron saint of the city.
Modica (Sicily) is situated in the dramatic landscape of the Monti Iblei, a range of high ground divided up by deep valleys and it boasts some very fine Baroque architecture, picturesque views and historic lanes. For these reasons Modica (Sicily) is one of the area’s UNESCO-listed Baroque towns.
If you love the baroque style, the stunning churches relating to this architectural style, you must visit Modica.
Today the town is composed of two urban agglomerations: the Upper and the Lower Modica, both are fascinating in an equal way for different reasons.
The historical centre stretches along Corso Umberto I, the living room of the town, in the lower part of the Iblean centre.
The network of streets is rich of old buildings, churches , coffee shops, restaurants and little stores. The Cathedral of Saint George reigns on the promontory of the town.
Like most of the area’s great architecture, it was created in the local Baroque style after the 1693 earthquake destroyed the previous building. The twin staircases climbing to the church are attractive with little half-wild gardens swarming with roses, wisteria and palms.
Climbing upwards to the left of the church you can explore a steep maze of village-type dwellings; some ruinous, some well kept, some for sale.
At the top is the Belvedere Pizzo, a good viewpoint with benches and views over the Modica valleys. Along the street from here is another imposing church, the nineteenth-century Chiesa di San Giovanni, with another grand staircase and extravagant façade.
Modica, Sicily, is also particularly famous for its chocolate and it is an appealing destination for food-lovers. Modica chocolate is rich, dark and crumbly, produced in a traditional method imported from the New World by Sicily’s Spanish overlords.
It can be melted, or eaten solid. The traditional flavours are vanilla and cinnamon, but you’ll find all kinds of flavours including chilli pepper and sea salt.
Don’t miss: The most famous chocolate-maker: the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto (Corso Umberto I, 159)
-Taste all types of the chocolate in the town’s shops, there are free samples available and it is easy to turn a tour of Modica into a gastronomic pilgrimage.
How to get to Ragusa/ Modica (Sicily)
Catania Airport is 105 km away (1 h 30 min drive), Comiso Airport 20 km (26 min drive)
By car: hire a car at airport
Modica Hotels – Where to Stay
Best luxury hotel: Stone House Modica
Best for a stylish stay
Immersed in a large green garden that surrounds the charming baroque town of Modica, Stone House is big villa built entirely of white stone, typical of the area. Villa consists of 4 accommodations, two apartments and two annexes with B&B service. A real oasis of peace within walking distance from the city. Magnificent swimming pool, a magnet for children and adults. An ideal family house not far from fascinating city and sandy white beaches.
Rooms from € 105/night
Best mid-range hotel: Edel Modica
Lovely traditional villa renovated by the owners. Parking is easy on Via Garibaldi road. Excellent breakfast served including croissants, bread, ham, salami, cheese, eggs to go with the delicious coffee. Great views from the multi-level court yard area and garden which included a fantastic jacuzzi.
Rooms from € 90/night
Best budget hotel: Ferro Hotel 4*
Excellent base for trips
FerroHotel features a unique and contemporary design; all based around train travel. Set in the picturesque town of Modica, it is a great base for exploring South-East Sicily. The hotel organises free guided tours of Modica once a week, plus a range of excursions further afield, on foot or by bike or car.
Rooms from € 80/night
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