Ancient city of Greek origin and rebuilt after a devastating earthquake at the end of the seventeenth century, Modica stands in a very particular position on the confluence of two rivers which earned it the definition of “Italy’s most unique city after Venice” in the first edition of the Treccani encyclopedia . It is a sort of multi-layered city, with buildings growing on both sides of the hill that separates the two rivers, and two clearly distinct areas, Modica Alta and Modica Bassa. The symbolic image of the city are the houses leaning against each other, built using the natural cavities of the rock. These ancient buildings are now incorporated into the most modern buildings, creating a truly spectacular overall effect. Its splendid Baroque buildings have been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, but a treasure of Modica perhaps even better known is its precious chocolate. Immortal are instead the poems of Salvatore Quasimodo, one of the greatest exponents of Italian Hermeticism who was born right here in Modica.
The center of Modica is a succession of elegant stairways, arcades, noble palaces, baroque churches: a marvel at every corner! The two main streets around which the center develops are Corso Umberto and Via Giarrantana, flanked by splendid buildings with a decadent charm. One of the attractions not to be missed in Modica is the magnificent Cathedral of San Giorgio1, a Rococo masterpiece placed at the top of a monumental staircase of 260 steps. Opulent and opulent, this church is a riot of stuccoes, decorations and works of art, both inside and out. No less beautiful is the Church of San Pietro2, located along the main street in the Lower Town and dominated by the Rocca del Castello dei Conti. For a dive into a more recent past, visit the Salvatore Quasimodo3 Birthplace Museum, the Nobel Prize-winning writer from Modica. In the museum rooms, furnished in the early twentieth century style, furniture and objects that belonged to the writer are exhibited; it is also possible to attend the projections of educational videos and the film of the Nobel Prize award ceremony. In the countryside around Modica you cannot fail to notice the dry stone walls built in the sixteenth century to delimit the plots of land of small landowners, which represent a piece of the territory’s history. The area is also very rich in suggestive quarries and natural caves. – https://www.sicilia.info/ragusa/modica/
In addition to the architectural beauties and the enchanting beaches in the surroundings, there is another sweet reason to visit Modica: this Sicilian town boasts an ancient tradition in the production of chocolate. Obtained with a particular cold processing that keeps the organoleptic properties of cocoa unaltered, Modica chocolate is one of the excellences of Italian confectionery production. To learn about the history of Modica chocolate, its ingredients and the stages of processing, visit the Chocolate Museum of Modica4. You will find on display an exceptional collection of documents that testify the ancient origins of this delight of the palate. Another unmissable stop on any food and wine tour of Sicily is the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto5, the oldest chocolate shop on the island: since 1880 it has been producing traditionally Modica and Sicilian chocolate by hand, but also delicious nougats, biscuits and sweets. In the summer months it is possible to participate in a guided tour that ends with a tasting of typical sweets. – https://www.sicilia.info/ragusa/modica/
Just saying the name of Noto comes to mind the wonderful baroque palaces and the elegant churches that distinguish this splendid city of southern Sicily while few remember the incredible archaeological and historical attractions that can be visited a few kilometers from the urban center.
The territory of Noto offers an incredible historical-archaeological richness since it has been inhabited by man for over 4000 years, and every civilization that has crossed this region of Sicily has left behind the testimony of its culture and its history. From the Greek age to the Byzantines, from the Arab domination to the reign of the Bourbons, the historical sites of the territory of Noto are as beautiful as they are not very frequented and for this reason some are in a non-optimal state, but the landscape that can be admired in these areas are worth every effort to reach them.
The first stop on a trip to the Noto area is the site of Noto Antica ; the city that was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693 and after the evacuation of the population was rebuilt in the current city of Noto, leaving the previous structures as ghosts of a forgotten era.
Noto is one of the most famous cities in Sicily, known all over the world for its historic center where you can admire one of the most elegant and extraordinary results of Sicilian Baroque architecture. The beauty of this city in the province of Syracuse is a direct consequence of its millenary history which has seen the most diverse and varied cultures cross its streets and leave an indelible mark on its face and its traditions.
Noto is one of the most popular tourist destinations to admire its splendid churches, its elegant noble palaces and stroll through the streets of the historic center in a setting of extraordinary beauty.
To enter the historic center of Noto you cross the imposing Arc de Triomphe, built at the behest of Ferdinando di Borbone in 1838 and a metaphor of the city itself, bringing the figures of the tower, the dog and the pelican, strength, loyalty and sacrifice, the symbols of the virtues of the city of Noto. The portal is made of the same sandstone that characterizes the entire historic center and gives the structures a surprising brightness that multiplies at sunset until it appears like a golden hood covering the rock.
Beyond the arch opens Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main street in the heart of Noto, where you can take a splendid walk up to Piazza dell’Immacolata and the wonderful church of San Francesco all’Immacolata, which has been clinging to the top for more than 300 years. of the monumental staircase.
This church was built after the great earthquake of 1693 that devastated the historic center but it was also an opportunity to rebuild the entire fabric of the city with an innovative urban project. San Francesco is the most shining example of this reconstruction, since the architects were able to work on a real blank canvas in order to create one of the most evocative churches in the city. The interior of the church, with its large and single nave, is a triumph of the Rococo style characterized by graceful decorations and magnificent frescoes.
Just beyond the Immaculate Conception, still on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, there is a small baroque jewel, the church of Santa Chiara, an oval structure that expresses the most delicate and refined side of Sicilian Baroque. The church was built in the mid-eighteenth century and was annexed to the nearby Benedictine monastery undergoing numerous changes over the centuries. Today the main entrance has been restored to its original position on via Pier Capponi and the 2006 restoration has brought it back to its original splendor.
Continuing further along the Corso we reach the symbol of Noto’s rebirth, the cathedral of San Nicolò, which in 1996 suffered serious damage due to the collapse of the central dome and only after a decade of restoration work. The cathedral is located on the top of the spectacular monumental staircase, rising almost 10 meters from the street level of the Corso, and its splendid facade follows the typology of the “two side towers”. Inside you can admire the large central nave, the pictorial cycles and the spectacular ark in wood and silver made by chisel in the sixteenth century.
On the other side of the Corso from the cathedral you can admire Palazzo Ducezio, the town hall building of Noto, designed by Noto Vincenzo Sinatra in 1746, one of the most important Sicilian architects of the eighteenth century. The palace has a spectacular portico rich in decorations, which bears the bas-relief of the commander Ducezio who founded the city of Noto, and a slightly smaller first floor, which was added during the twentieth century. Inside the palace you can admire the spectacular halls rich in gilded decorations, mirrors and the original Louis XV style furniture.
Continuing to via Corrado Nicolaci, where the incredible Infiorata festival takes place every year, you can admire the phantasmagoria of figures that covers the facade of Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata and its balconies. This noble palace is still inhabited by the descendants of the Nicolaci family and it is possible to visit the wonderful internal rooms, such as the spectacular ballroom and the magnificent frescoed rooms where the Noto Library is now housed.
The walk along the Corso leads up to the church of San Carlo al Corso with its spectacular curvilinear façade dominated by a splendid Baroque decoration. Inside this church it is possible to access the staircase of the bell tower which allows you to reach the panoramic platform on the top of it, from where you can admire a spectacular view over the entire historic center of Noto.
At the end of the course you arrive in front of the suggestive church of San Domenico and the Villetta, the garden with the beautiful fountain of Hercules, where you can stop to rest in the shade of the ancient trees and admire the facade of the elegant “Tina Di Theater”. Lorenzo ”, formerly known as the“ Vittorio Emanuele ”Theater or as“ La Scala in miniature of Noto, on the other side of the splendid Piazza XVI Maggio. At this point it is time to enter the narrow streets of the historic center to look for one of the legendary taverns of Noto where you can taste the best of Sicilian gastronomy.