What to see in Ragusa and Modica: duomos, cave restaurants and chocolate
From our base in Noto, we passed through the cities of Ragusa and Modica. Going in with a blank canvas, I’d no idea what to expect, but then again, that’s exactly how I like to travel — with no expectations.
There’s really no way of getting around Sicily other than by car, so I suggest either hiring one, or finding a local tour company to take you. The journey takes around 50 minutes from Noto, and you’ll see plenty of the arid yet pretty Sicilian countryside. Take particular note of the seemingly endless stream of lemon and olive trees, as well as the old stone structures that whizz past your window. These are muragghi — stone constructions that were built to keep rocks from clogging up the field.
What to see in Ragusa and Modica
When you eventually spot Ragusa in the distance, you’ll feel as though you’re stepping back in time. From a distance, the city looks majestic, and a sense of mystery and intrigue builds the closer you get. You’ll feel this even more when you’re on the winding road driving up into the heart of the city.
The earthquake in Ragusa 1693 split the city of Ibla in 2, with some of the buildings re-built in Baroque style. That said, it’s still possible to see the older pre-earthquake buildings too. Walking around and exploring the city is a must — just try to do this early morning, before the sun gets too hot.
Day trip to Ragusa — points of interest
The number one attraction most people flock to are the awe-inspiring duomos in the city. The Duomo is the principal church or cathedral in every Italian town or city. You can find the Duomo San Giorgio in Piazza Duomo, or the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista. Both are perfect examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture, and I must have spent at least 5 minutes in the blazing sun simply staring at the former.
Inside the Duomo San Giorgio, there’s almost a theatrical feel, with the deep red full-length curtains married with the golden-brown fringing. The interior itself is impressive and don’t forget to look up to admire the wondrous ceiling. Upon visiting, we were witness to the preparations for a wedding and so decided to pay our respects by leaving!
If you have no itinerary to stick to, I’d highly recommend just strolling around the town. On doing so, we came across a workshop that was not only selling local crafts, but also restoring them. We spotted a traditional carrotero (Sicilian cart) and a Fiat 500 adorned in colourful Sicilian print.
“The number one attraction most people flock to are the awe-inspiring duomos in the city”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
“We spotted a traditional carrotero (Sicilian cart) and a Fiat 500 adorned in colourful Sicilian print”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
Locanda Don Serafino — the restaurant in a cave
When in Italy, finding somewhere good, and something delicious to eat, is never hard. Saying that, it seems my gastronomic experience was about to get 1,000% better when we stopped for lunch at the exquisite Locanda Don Serafino.
You’ll find it adjacent to the UNESCO heritage site of La Chiesa del Miracoli, a church built in the 17th century. With 2 Michelin stars to its name, you can assume that the quality, as well as the prices, will be higher than a regular trattoria.
The food here is nothing short of excellent, which I think shows from my photos! On top of this, the ambience matches the restaurant’s high standard, in no less than a cave-style environment. Locanda Don Serafino is also part of the beautiful boutique hotel of the same name. For an equally luxurious accommodation experience, click here to find the best deals.
Day trip Ragusa, Modica: Modica — chocolate tasting and baroque
The pretty town of Modica is around 20 minutes by car from Ragusa. It’s much smaller, but with just as much character. It used to be an old walled town when the Arabs ruled, but elegant baroque architecture soon replaced any signs of its former rulers.
Modica’s most famous export is its chocolate. You’ll see plenty of signs selling chocolate when walking around the streets, but the best quality is at Antica Dolceria Bonajuato. The chocolate has a grainy texture to it, and a robust taste, so may not be to everyone’s palate.
I took 3 types of chocolate home: the Massa di cacao 100%; Cioccolato Salinae and Cioccolato Mascobedo. As I write, only 1 bar remains…!
Day trip Ragusa, Modica — Duomo di San Pietro
It’s pretty impossible to miss the Duomo in Modica, and trust me, you won’t want to. It’s striking baroque edifice and stone sculptures stop you in your tracks, demanding your full attention. With a whopping 250 steps to reach the top, be sure to have your Rocky ‘dancing on the spot’ moment when you get there!
“Another selling point about this Duomo, is that there were no tourists there! ”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
The Duomo di San Pietro, for me, is on par with the cathedral in Siena and also in Florence. From the stained yellow façade of the stone outside, to the intricate detailing inside, I spent around 15 minutes trying to take it all in. Another selling point about this Duomo, is that there were no tourists there! Seriously, no one!
All in all, seeing Ragusa and Modica is possible to do in one day, and is the perfect day trip if staying in Noto.
Have you ever visited Ragusa or Modica? If so, what were your highlights?
Make the most of your time exploring Noto, Ragusa and Modica with a stay at the fabulous Seven Rooms Villadorata. This boutique hotel’s in the heart of the historic centre in Noto, and a good base for your Sicily travels!