Modica

Modica is a 40-minute drive from Noto and a 20-minute drive south from Ragusa. Once one of the most important towns in Renaissance Sicily Modica is the place where you’ll find grand old palazzi and glorious churches. The combination of Greek, Roman, Arab, and Norman civilizations are more evident here than in other Sicilian towns. It might not have the charm of Scicli or indeed the enigma of Ragusa, nor does it have a main square, but it has a more modern European feel. The best way to explore Modica is by walking up and down the stairs connecting the lower Modica, Modica Bassa and Modica Alta, the upper Modica.  Famous for its Baroque buildings and the Chocolate Museum which showcases the city’s history of chocolate-making. The chocolate from Modica is unique and to this day is made from an ancient Aztec recipe. The Bonajuto family are six generations of chocolatiers in Modica and they have the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily and one of the oldest in Italy which has been around since 1880. If you’d like to book a tour (a minimum of 3 days’ notice is needed) there’s an Italian tour every day (apart from Sundays and public holidays) in the morning around 11am and an English tour in the afternoon at 3.30pm. The tour takes you through the history of the Bonajuto family and their chocolate factory and ends with a tasting of torroni nougat, half-moon shaped biscuits called mpanatigghi and a cold chocolate drink. The tour lasts no more than 45 minutes, costs around €8 per person and children under 5 are free of charge. If you would prefer just to taste the chocolate, you’re more than welcome in the shop without an appointment. One of the first two products to be created by the historic Antica Dolceria Bonajuto was the Vanilla chocolate, loved by children for its sweetness and original pretty pink wrapper. On the opposite side of the street, Caffé dell’Arte makes very good chocolate as well as delicious gelato that can be enjoyed in the sunshine on outdoor tables.

For a fine dining experience try Accursio owned by the chef who used to run the two Michelin star restaurant Locanda del Colonnello. If you’re after a relaxed, bustling affair, favored by the locals then Osteria dei Sapori Perduti serving humble, delicious dishes is a good choice. Enoteca Rappa is a small shop specializing in local Sicilian cheeses, wines, local jams, honeys and meats, pop in, you might want to take a little of Sicily home with you.

Discovering Noto and Sicily