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10 Best Things To Do In Modica Sicily In 2024

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by Soumya

If you are planning a trip to Modica in Sicily and looking for the best things to do there, then you have come to the right place.

Modica is one of my favorite Sicilian towns because of its mind-blowing baroque architecture.

As a culture vulture, I think there are so many amazing things to do in Modica that I wrote this exhaustive Modica travel guide just for you.

Modica in Italy is one of the 8 Baroque Towns of Val di Noto that form a UNESCO World Heritage Ensemble. It was destroyed entirely in the Earthquake of 1693 and was later reconstructed in the Sicily Baroque style.

Today, the city is home to stunning Baroque buildings with rich carvings and eccentric balconies, beautiful churches, an age-old theater, and quaint alleyways. Plus, Modica is home to an ancient secret – the Aztec Chocolate!

As you can see, there are tons of different places to visit in Modica, Sicily. Attractions abound in this small town.

Even though I visited Modica on a day trip from Ragusa, I always felt that I could have easily stayed a few nights here. And, you should too.

In this ultimate Modica travel guide, I talk about the best things in Modica including tourist places, food, accommodation, and so much more.

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About Modica, Sicily

  • Modica is one of the 8 Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto (a UNESCO heritage site) that were destroyed in the 1693 Sicily earthquake. It was reconstructed entirely in the late 17th – early 18th century in the Sicilian Baroque style.
  • The city of Modican is divided into two parts – Modica Alta (Upper Town) and Modica Bassa (Lower Town). Modica Bassa is home to the main street – Corso Umberto I. Therefore, you’ll find a ton of Modica attractions in this area. Modica Alta, however, gives you the best views.
  • One of the most interesting things to do in Modica is to taste the unique Modica chocolate that is still prepared in traditional methods of Aztec origin. That makes Modica a must-have on your Sicily itinerary.
  • There are many impressive churches in Modica, Sicily. The most popular ones are the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the Cathedral of St. Peter. Yes, Modica has two cathedrals!

Best things to do in Modica

Visit the marvelous Cathedral of San Giorgio

Duomo of San Giorgio in Modica Italy
The majestic Duomo – one of the best Modica attractions.

If you have to visit just one place in Modica, then it has to be the Cathedral of San Giorgio.

It is known to be one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Sicily and a masterpiece of Rosario Gagliardi (a prime architect of Val di Noto’s post-earthquake reconstruction).

If you are a Montalbano fan, you’ll remember that Montalbano often passed by this impressive church.

Duomo of San Giorgio is a Baroque church with an imposing facade divided into 3 orders and a bell tower on the top. The presence of a spire to hold the iron cross on top is an interesting addition.

Inside, the church is furnished with paintings depicting the Nativity and the Assumption. A monumental stairway leads up to the church and you’ll find a well-landscaped garden at the bottom of the steps.

The Cathedral is dedicated to both St. George and St. Hippolytus. In the right nave, St. George’s relics are stored.

Since the Duomo is located in the Upper Town, it requires a bit of climbing to get there. But the hike is punctuated by beautiful views. So, it was definitely worth it.

You can also take a public bus from Corso Umberto to get to the upper town.

Taste some Aztec chocolate

Traditional Aztec chocolate in Modica
Traditional Modica chocolate is grainy and brittle.
Image courtesy: Quanthem via Canva Pro

One of the most interesting things to do in Modica is to taste the unusual Modica chocolate – the chocolate with a hidden history. Typical to Southeastern Sicily, particularly the town of Modica, the chocolate here is made by a traditional Aztec technique that came to Sicily with the Spanish.

Aztecs are an ancient Mesoamerican civilization that ruled in the Valley of Mexico. Some of Mexico’s most impressive heritage sites such Tenochtitlan in Mexico City center and the massive pyramids of Teotihuacan can be attributed to them. Aztecs used to make chocolate by cold pressing cocoa beans on a stone quern. Cold processing does not melt the sugar and gives the chocolate a grainy texture. Additionally, no milk is added to this chocolate.

Unlike the regular chocolate that we are used to, Modica chocolate is grainy and brittle. You’ll find that it comes in many flavors including some interesting ones like chilli, lime, anise, and coffee.

Tasting chocolate in Modica is an enthralling experience. And of course, there are some great places to do it. One of the most popular places to have Modica chocolate is Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, an artisan shop that has been producing Modica chocolate for more than 150 years now. Another great place where you can pair your chocolate with good coffee is Caffe dell’Arte in the historic center. Their cannolis are also delicious.

For further insights into the region’s history and love of chocolate, you can also visit the Chocolate Museum which has some exciting chocolate sculptures and designs.

Step into the gorgeous Cathedral of St. Peter

St. Peter's Cathedral in Modica
St. Peter’s Cathedral

An important place to visit in Modica is the beautiful Cathedral of San Pietro. In fact, it is one of the best places to get the most stunning pictures in Modica.

Located in the lower town, on the main walkway, the cathedral is a stunning example of Baroque architecture. The most captivating feature of the cathedral is the enormous stairway that leads up to the church and is adorned with the statues of the 12 apostles. Inside the church, you will see frescoes of scenes from the Old and New Testaments and a statue of the Madonna of Trapani.

The cathedral that you see today was built in the 18th century after the earthquake destroyed an older 13th-century church that existed here.

Roam around Corso Umberto

Corso Umberto - The most happening place in Modica Sicily
Look at all the baroque masterpieces that flank Corso Umberto.

Corso Umberto I is the main street of Modica, Sicily. The street is an absolute treasure house of Sicilian Baroque architecture with many impressive buildings and monuments. Some of the most iconic buildings including the Cultural Palace of Modica (which houses the Civic Archaeological Museum and Chocolate Museum of Modica), Grimaldi Palace, Garibaldi Theater, and the Church of Saint Peter.

Taking a walk around Corso Umberto was one of the my favorite things to do in Modica. Spotting interesting Baroque elements in their place of origin was simply mind-blowing. I could see remarkable Baroque facades, opulent carvings, and rich local elements. In fact, one of the things that I greatly enjoyed on my walk through the Corso Umberto was noticing imposing Baroque balconies that I talk about next.

By the way, late afternoon or early evening are a good time to visit Corso Umberto because that is when the locals head out for their daily passeggiata and an aperitivo. It is a lively time to be around.

Spot unique Baroque balconies

Baroque balconies with grotesque masks in Modica

Of all the amazing Baroque creations that I saw in the towns of Val di Noto, I loved the balconies the best. These were wrought iron balconies adorning palaces, mansions, and even local homes. And each balcony had a unique character of its own.

The brackets that supported the balcony balustrades had some special characters holding them up. Grotesque masks, mermaids, dolphins, lions, horses, winged cherubs, and musicians were quite common. Some of these characters were downright monstrous. Apparently, these masks were built to drive away evil spirits from the building – a logical thing to do especially since the town had suffered greatly due to the earthquake.

At first, I thought I would find the balconies repelling. In contrast, I found them utterly attractive and so representative of the place’s history and beliefs. I loved them so much that I ended up spending most of my day in Modica gaping at its Baroque balconies.

See the neoclassical Garibaldi Theater

Garibaldi Theater

If you think you’ve had an overdose of Baroque architecture, head to the Garibaldi Theater, a sober and neoclassical structure that was built in the 19th century.

Teatro Garibaldi or the Garibaldi Theater was once the center of social and cultural life in Modica. It closed in 1984 and reopened again in 2000. Notice the clock on the facade with an eagle on the top. That is the symbol of Modica.

Located on Corso Umberto I, the Garibaldi Theater makes for an interesting stop on your Modica itinerary.

It is a good place to stop for a moment and imagine how theaters and plays would have been in the olden days.

Enjoy stunning views of Modica

Views from Modica Alta
Stunning views from Modica Alta.

When you are in Val di Noto, you cannot miss the panoramic views. Even though my favorite views were the vistas of Ragusa Ibla from the steps of Ragusa Superiore, I had some amazing sights from Modica Alta (the Upper Town) too.

More than 250 steps connect Modica Bassa (Lower Town) with Modica Alta (Upper Town). We climbed all the way from Bassa to Alta and were rewarded with stunning views during our hike. If you wish to avoid all the climbing, you can do the reverse journey and climb down from Alta to Bassa for the views.

If you’d like to explore a proper viewpoint, head to Pizzo Belvedere that provides some of the most gorgeous views in town. Directions in the map below.

Indulge in good food

Sicily wine
Wine is always a good idea in Modica.

Travel and food are always linked together on my trips. When you are visiting Modica, you cannot miss the local delights.

Apart from the famous Modica chocolate, the city has many other delights to offer. You cannot miss their mpanatigghi (crescent-shaped cookies), arancini, and sccace (Sicilian stuffed flatbread). Try Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the only Sicily wine that has the DOCG status.

Some of the best places to eat in Modica are Caffe Adamo, Piccolo Bar, and Invito. If you’d like an authentic, homely experience, you can sign up for this private dining experience at a local’s home. The experience includes a 4-course meal of family recipes and a cooking demonstration.

Tour a local market in Modica

Visiting local markets is always fun in any part of the world. When you are in the Mediterranean, you cannot help but check out the local produce that is full of colors and flavors.

Modica’s markets sell everything from fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meat, and clothes. And these are truly the best places to get into the thick of Sicilian life. Even though you can find small markets and shops anywhere in Modica, head to Mercato dei Prodotti Contadini for an immersive, farmer’s market experience.

You can also join a private market tour and foodie experience like this one in Modica.

Modica local market
Visiting local markets in Sicily is so much fun. The colors and the sounds are amazing.

Visit Marina di Modica

What’s Sicily without a little beach time! Head to the beautiful sandy beach of Marina di Modica. Located 30 mins to the south of Modica city, this sunny beach makes for an amazing day trip for travelers of all kinds.

If you are visiting in summer (months of July and August), then you’ll find the beach to be a hub of all kinds of activity. There are live bands, pop-up stores of all kinds, performances, and discotheques. You can eat, drink, and be merry on the Marina di Modica in summer.

If you are here outside of summer, then a walk on the beach or along the boardwalk is a pleasant experience. It doesn’t get too cold in Sicily anyway. So any season is good.

Interactive map of attractions in Modica, Sicily

Map of attractions in Modica Sicily
Click on the interactive map above to access directions to all the best things to do in Modica.

Where to stay in Modica?

Most travelers often visit Modica as a day trip from the nearby town of Ragusa. I did the same too. In fact, I combined Modica and Scicli (another Baroque town of the Val di Noto ensemble) in a day and could see the highlights of both places. Though honestly, I would have liked to have spent some more time in Modica.

I am definitely going to stay a couple of days in Modica when I head to Sicily next. Not just because there is no dearth of good things to do in Modica but also because there are so many wonderful places to stay in Modica.

Best Hotels and B&Bs in Modica

One of the Modica hotels that I find highly recommended on many platforms including Tripadvisor is Casa Talia. Casa Talia is a quaint B&B that offers stunning views of the city. It’s close location to Corso Umberto makes the hotel easily accessible to Modica’s happening downtown. They have lovely rooms but I love their garden the most. It is an adorable place where you can get lost in the views with a glass of wine in your hand. Check out reviews of Casa Talia here on Tripadvisor. For booking, you’ll have to check out their official website here.

B&B Al Cortilleto is a charming place to stay in Modica.
B&B Al Cortilleto is a charming place to stay in Modica.

Two other properties that look amazing and are located right in the center of the town are Le Magnolie Hotel and Palazzo Degli Olivi. Le Magnolie is a boutique hotel with spacious rooms, gorgeous views, and friendly owners. Palazzo Degli Olivi has tastefully furnished apartments and really hospitable owners. B&B Al Cortilleto in the historic center also looked like a quaint and comfy place when I saw it the last time in Modica. No doubt, it has some great reviews on Booking here.

Practical information for visiting Modica, Sicily

Best time to visit Modica

The best time to visit Modica is in summer (July and August) when the place is really warm and happening.

My favorite time, however, is the shoulder season which lasts from April – June and September – November. During these months, Modica is less crowded and has a pleasant weather without too much of sun. It may not be the perfect time to go swimming in the sea but it is the best time to be strolling the streets of Modica and gaping at its gorgeous Baroque buildings.

If you are a festival person, Easter is a good time to visit. Madonna Vasa Vasa is the main festival of Modica that happens on Easter Sunday. Two separate processions of the statues of the Virgin Mary and of the Risen Christ are carried around the city. At midday, the two statues meet and symbolically kiss and embrace each other.

How to get to Modica?

Travelers often make a day trip to Modica from Ragusa. [Please see our detailed travel guide for Ragusa to find out how to get to Ragusa from Catania and other major airports in the world.]

Since the distance between Ragusa and Modica is less than 10 miles (around 15 km), it takes less than 30 mins to get to Modica from Ragusa.

You can hire a taxi or rent your own car for the road trip.

Public transport is also available between Ragusa and Modica. Trains are cheap, frequent, and get you to Modica pretty fast. Check for train options on Trenitalia website here.

You can also ride an AST bus that you can board from the bus stop in Modica Superiore.

How to get around Modica?

The best way to see the highlights of Modica is by walking around the city.

Many of Modica’s attractions are located along the main street, Corso Umberto, in Modica Bassa. Corso Umberto is flat and easy to walk on.

A few attractions such as the Cathedral of San Giorgio are located in Modica Alta, the Upper Town. You have to climb 250 stairs to get to the Cathedral.

This is no easy climb. So, be prepared with water, sunscreen, and good shoes. The climb is dotted with great views of the town and you can always stop and marvel at those.

Or get lost in the narrow lanes of Modica. If you aren’t keen on climbing, public buses run from Corso Umberto to Modica Alta.

Modica Sicily Travel FAQ

Is Modica worth visiting?

Yes, Modica in Sicily is absolutely worth visiting because of two main reasons. Modica is home to magnificent Sicilian Baroque architecture which makes it a UNESCO heritage site. It is also the only place where you can still taste authentic Modica chocolate, still made the traditional Aztec way.

Why is Modica famous for chocolate?

Modica is famous for chocolate because a long time ago Spaniards brought chocolate to Modica from the land of the Aztecs in Mesoamerica. Modica still makes its chocolate (no milk, cold produced, grainy texture, unique flavors) in the traditional Aztec manner which is hard to find elsewhere in Europe.

How long to spend in Modica?

Plan to spend at least a day in Modica so that you can appreciate the vibes of Corso Umberto, see the baroque architecture, and taste some Aztec chocolate. If you want to do more such as heading to the beach or taking a cooking class, plan to spend at least one night in the city of Modica.

What is Modica famous for?

Modica is famous for its unique baroque architecture and special Modica chocolate that was brought to Sicily by the Spaniards and is still made the Aztec way.

Loved our guide for best things to do in Modica? Pin it for later!

Traveling to Modica Sicily? Wondering what to do in Modica? Grab this Modica travel guide with the 10 best things to do in Modica Italy that you totally need to have in your Modica bucket list. #Modica #Sicily #Italy

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

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