At the foot of the Monti Iblei there is the city of Modica, just 15 km far from Ragusa: it is known by everybody as the city of the chocolate, but also of the 100 churches, before that these latter were destroyed by the devasting earthquake of 1963.
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What to see in Modica
Modica has much to offer from a historic-artistic point of view, a unique heritage preserved by UNESCO.
Modica is a triumph of labyrinthic narrow streets, late Baroque architectures and houses built one over the other: there are many staircases that connect the lower town to the upper town which flows into the vestiges of the Medieval castle, of which only the external walls remain, the jails and the iconic clock tower, still functioning.
Among the most beautiful noble palaces in Modica, we must mention Palazzo Tommasi-Rosso, with Baroque masks decorating the façades, and Palazzo Rubino, where bewitching female figures are alternated with other caricatures with a grim face.
Then, you cannot miss a visit to the Museum of Chocolate, where artworks realized with that chocolate that in Modica is cold processed, in compliance with an ancient Aztek recipe, are exhibited.
Do not forget that right in Modica Salvatore Quasimodo was born; his birthplace has become today an important museum rich in manuscripts and documents linked to this poet who received the Nobel Prize for literature.
The churches in Modica
The church of San Giorgio, even though it was rebuilt after the numerous seismic events of the past, is a true Baroque jewel, accessible climbing 250 steps: the interior, in addition to the pavement sundial, preserves the treasure of the church, including the Holy Ark, within which there are the relics of San Giorgio.
The Church of the Carmine, realized in Gothic-Chiaramonte style, is equally beautiful: the gothic door surmounted by a twelve-spokes rose windows stands out on the façade.
There is also the Church of San Pietro, also defined the Cathedral of the lower Modica: the church is accessed by climbing a long staircase decorated with the statues of the twelve Apostles. Once inside, you will be amazed by the frescoed ceilings, and, overall, by the golden and blue decors.
A few steps from the church you will find Piazza Monumento, which every Easter day becomes the theatre of a suggestive celebration of the rite “Madonna vasa vasa”: on this occasion, the meeting between the two statues of the Risen Christ and of the Virgin Mary happens, among the applauses and the emotion of the worshippers.
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A few kilometres from Modica, you will find other splendid jewels, characterised by a Baroque style. Among these, Scicli deserves a particular mention thanks to its beautiful palaces: Palazzo Spadaro, open to the public, Palazzo Fava, with the winged griffons looking towards the church of San Bartolomeo, and Palazzo Beneventano, where two eye-catching Moor’s heads, a San Giuseppe and many figures of human caricatures are exhibited.
Ragusa Ibla is equally intriguing, with its narrow streets and the typical steep staircases; all this is the background of the houses built one on the another, with sloping roofs and colourful tiles.
The dome of San Giorgio is a masterpiece of elegance and grandeur, while the Baroque palaces present monster with frightening grimaces to guard the entrance gates.