Modica is the town of the 100 churches and it's renowned for its southern position and the Baroque style and architecture. The town consists of a lower part (Modica Bassa) and a higher, more ancient part, Modica Alta, connected through 130-m tall Ponte Guerrieri, one of the highest bridges in Europe.
WHAT TO SEE:
- The church of Madonna delle Grazie, who according to the tradition liberated the town from a plague in 1709, with a splendidly decorated facade, three naves and a dome. In the main altar is a statue in slate stone of the Virgin Mary.
- the 15th-century church of Santa Maria di Betlemme, renovated many times with additions from different periods of Sicilian history, from Norman times to the Renaissance.
- the Baroque church of San Giorgio, in a dominating position at the top of a flight of steps, with a spectacular facade, hosting inside a 16th-century painting by Girolamo Alibrandi; on the floor of the transept there is a meridian (sun-clock).
WHERE TO STAY
Stay at this cure b&b for a Sicilian experience: http://www.casatalia.it/casa_talia.htm
WHERE TO EAT
You must try a freshly made cannolo from Bonajuto. They are outstanding. Don't go anywhere else. This is the right place: http://www.bonajuto.it/
Spend the night in Modica and enjoy strolling in the streets of this ancient city.
In the morning, head to Ragusa, one of the most fascinating towns in Sicily, Ragusa has caused many a visitor’s jaw to drop as they first set eyes on the lower part of the town. Essentially Baroque, the Ragusa you will see today dates almost entirely from 1693.
While the upper part has its fair share of architectural delights, it is the smaller Ragusa Ibla down below that really draws visitors. Whether you approach it from Modica to the south or from Ragusa Superiore, the sight of the jumble of houses, churches and civic palazzi piled on top of each other, clinging to the walls of the gorge, is really quite breathtaking. Although seemingly Mediaeval from a distance, once you enter the town’s heart, the Baroque logic of its plan becomes more obvious.
The town is part of the Val di Noto UNESCO Heritage site and 18 of its buildings are protected by UNESCO patronage.
WHAT TO SEE:
In Ragusa Ibla: - the Basilica di San Giorgio, built in 1738 by Rosario Gagliardo. It lies at the top of some 200 steps and has an impressive neoclassical dome that was added in 1820.
- “Giardino lbleo". The Hyblean Gardens offer some fantastic views of the town.
- the Chiesa di Maria delle Scale (St. Mary of the Stairs) lies between Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla. It was not totally destroyed by the 1693 earthquake as can be seen from the Gothic Catalan-style arches in the right aisle. As its name might suggest, the church is reached via 242 steps, though the reward at the top is worth it.
In Ragusa Superiore:
The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, previously situated under the walls of the Mediaeval castle, was rebuilt twice, as the first version was deemed unsuitable. The version that you will see today was built in 1718 in an archetypal, extravagant Sicilian Baroque style.
WHERE TO EAT:
Duomo Restaurant - via Capitano Bocchierei 31 - 2 star Michelin restaurant and it's considered one of the best restaurant in Italy
La locanda di Don Serafino and La Fenice: 1 star Michelin restaurant
Also, have a granita in one of the local bars (it's our typical breakfast). Order a pistacchio granita or a gelsi granita. Add panna (whipped cream) and brioche for a finishing touch. It's a caloric bomb but you cannot leave Sicily without having one.
Ragusa is the Sicilian capital of fine dining
WHERE TO STAY:
For a bit of Sicilian traditionalism, rent this villa: http://www.thinksicily.com/Volo.aspx
And that's all for now. E-mail us if you need more info!
For inspiration, thanks to: http://www.italyworldclub.com/sicilia/ragusa/modica.htm and http://www.thinksicily.com/guide-to-sicily/towns-and-cities-in-sicily/ragusa.aspx