Modica is one of the eight "Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto" UNESCO world heritage sites. It's in two parts: Modica Alta, higher and older, is perched on top of the southern Ibeli hill. Modica Bassa is built lower down the slopes and in the valley below. Like the other nearby towns, Modica was smashed in the earthquake of 1693, and rebuilt in baroque style. The broad main avenue of the lower town used to be the river, but after a disastrous flood in 1902 it was diverted, and the graceful boulevard was developed.
The closest airport is Comiso. It's 18 km north of Ragusa, with no public transport link. There are daily flights to Milan, and others to Rome FCO, London Stansted, Dublin, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt.
Catania Fontanarossa is further but has a bus service from Modica, and a greater range of domestic and European flights.
Palermo has a similar range of flights to Catania.
Modica is on a branch line, plied by a lumbering single-coach railcar. Six trains a day M-Sa go north to Gela (80 min to 2 hrs, stops include Ragusa and Donnafugata) and south to Syracuse (90 min, stops include Scicli, Pozzallo, Ispica and Noto). From Gela there are connections to Palermo, and from Syracuse to Catania and Messina. No trains on Sunday.
- 2 Stazione di Modica. The station is at the south end of town, a short walk brings you into Lower Town. It's just a platform halt with no facilities.
- 3 Terminal Bus (Intercity bus stop). AST run buses to Syracuse, Catania, Palermo, Ragusa, Pozzallo, and Noto. It's just a bus-stand on the N edge of town, but there's a bar and small supermarket here.
- Urban bus, Corso Umberto 1, 470 (next to the intercity bus stop -- across the street from the "Barycentro"). The bus service is prone to be quite irregular, but expect to wait up to 40 min. Single €1.10; day pass €1.80.
A walk down from Modica Alta to Modica Bassa gives great views of the lower town. Either take the steps, or the zigzagging road.
- 1 Duomo di San Giorgio. closed 12:30-16:00. The large Baroque cathedral, rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake, is dedicated to St George. Its roots are in the Middle Ages but the bar near the altar tracing the midday sun's annual track shows a modern enquiring spirit. You can climb the tower for great views of the city (€2).
- 2 Castello dei Conti (Castello di Modica). A former residence of the Counts of Modica. Re-opened in late 2017 after years of restoration, but now appears to be closed again, fenced off behind construction barriers.
- 3 Palazzo Napolino-Tommasi Rosso, Corso Francesco Crispi, 38-62. An elegant late Baroque palazzo.
- 4 Palazzo Polara. 17th century.
- 5 Chiesa di Santa Maria del Gesù.
- 6 Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista.
- Modica Chocolate Museum and Civic Museum, Corso Umberto I, 149, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00–14:00, 16:00–20:00; Su 10:00-13:00. The chocolate museum has an exhibition explaining Modica's unique way of preparing chocolate at low temperatures, which leaves sugar crystalized in the chocolate. The are sculptures and paintings on chocolate, and a huge map of Italy made of chocolate. €3.50 for each museum.
- 7 Duomo di San Pietro. This notable church dedicated to St Peter crowned by a typical Sicilian Baroque belltower, 49 metres (161 ft) high.
- 8 [dead link] Chiesa rupestre di San Nicolò Inferiore, Piazzetta Grimaldi. Tu-Su 10:00-13:00 16:00-19:00. This "cave" church was dug into the rock. It was only discovered in 1987. The church is famous for rare frescoes on the bare rock in the late Byzantine style dating from the 12th to 16th centuries. Later excavations have unearthed some more crypts and tombs there. €2.
- 9 Chiesa di Santa Maria di Betlem. In this church, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, there is a late Gothic chapel, Cappella Palatina or Cappella Cabrera (1474-1520), which is a listed Monumento nazionale. The arched entrance to the Chapel is richly decorated in Gothic Chiaramonte style with elements Arab, Norman and Catalan influence. It's regarded as one of the most beautiful monuments that architecture has produced in Sicily at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. In the church there is also the Presepe Monumentale, Monumental Nativity, (1881/82), with 62 terracotta figurines made in Caltagirone.
- 10 Portale De Leva, Via De Leva, 8-24. Listed a National Monument, early 14th century, portal of the Palazzo De Leva is a fine example of the Gothic Chiaramonte style. The portal was probably an entrance to the church which was destroyed by an earthquake. Later it was incorporated into palazzo.
- 11 Palazzo Grimaldi, Corso Umberto I, 106. An interesting example of Neo-Renaissance building. It belongs now to the Fondazione Grimaldi. A pinacoteca and a fotogallery are opened there.
- 12 Palazzo degli Studi (ex Convento dei Padri Gesuiti). 17th-19th century.
- 13 Teatro Garibaldi. A small theatre built between 1815-1820 in Neoclassical style.
- 14 [dead link] Palazzo della Cultura (ex. Monastero delle Benedettine), Corso Umberto I, 149. Winter: Tu-Su 09:00–13:00 15:30–19:30; summer: Tu-Su 10:00–13:00 17:00–20:00. Built in 16th-19th centuries, it hosts Museo Civico. €2.
- 15 Chiesa del Carmine. and Ex. Convento del Carmine
- 16 Palazzo San Domenico (Municipio). The town hall, a former Dominican convent, and a former seat of the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily. In the lobby, there is a 17th-century entrance into an underground crypt, discovered in mid-20th century, containing some friars' bones. Some traces of frescoes can be seen there on the walls. Adjacent to the palazzo is the Chiesa di San Domenico.
- 17 Palazzo Salemi. Built between 1631-1640. A former Palazzo Comunale.
- 18 Palazzo Rubino (Trombadore). 17-18th century, Rococo style.
- 19 Palazzo dei Mercedari (ex Convento del Padri Mercedari). Now houses Biblioteca comunale and Museo delle Arti e delle Tradizioni Popolari.
Modica is known for its artisanal chocolate production. Along Corso Umberto I and elsewhere, there are many shops selling this prized products, and offering samples of the many flavors it which it is produced.
- 1 Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, Corso Umberto I, 159, ☏ . 09:00-20:30. A pastry shop famous for their traditional chocolate. They also sell their products at some other shops in nearby towns including Ragusa.
- Taverna Nicastro, Via S Antonino 30, ☏ . Tu-Sa 19:15-22:15; closed Su & M. Traditional Sicilian cuisine.
- Grana Barocco Spa Hotel, Corso Umberto 133, Modica (At main junction in town, at foot of Ragusa road), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 23;00. 4-star hotel in 17th-century palace, very central. With Wellness Centre & Spa. €70-110.