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Our Territory

Modica is «a town in the shape of a split pomegranate; near the sea but rural; half confined to a spur of rock, half scattered at his feet; with many stairs between the two halves, to act as peacemakers, and clouds in the sky from one bell tower to another ".

This is how Gesualdo Bufalino described Modica in “Argo the blind”, recalling a happy summer spent in town.
The city extends over the southern part of the Monti Iblei, 15km away from Ragusa in the south east of Sicily, spread over a wide highland and clinging to the rocky walls of the “caves” that cross it. The city stands where two rivers meet and so the territory is divided into four hills: Pizzo to the north, Idria to the west, Giganta to the east and Monserrato to the south.

According to an ancient legend, Modica was founded by Hercules (Heracles for Greek mythology). In the tenth effort, Hercules manages to capture the red oxen belonged to the giant Geryon. After the triumph in Spain, the hero heads to Italy but the oxen he brings with him as a trophy are stolen from him in Sicily. Motia, a beautiful Greek woman, showed him the places where the beasts had been hidden. Out of gratitude Hercules founded three cities in the places where he found the oxen and dedicated them to the woman; thus Mozia was born near Marsala, Mozia near Agrigento and the Mediterranean Mozia: Modica.

Carefree vacation

The County of Modica was one of the most important feudal states in the South; Its territory included all the municipalities that are now part of the province of Ragusa plus the baronies of Alcamo and Calatafimi in the province of Trapani and other cities scattered around the island. When feudalism was abolished at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Modica gradually lost its power until it gave way to Ragusa, which in 1927 was elevated to the status of a province.

Like the other cities of the south-east of Sicily, Modica was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693 but resurrected according to the Baroque aesthetic. Modica Alta, initially lying high on the Plateau of the Pianta, extended towards the bottom of the valley where Modica Bassa developed; the new district overlooked the banks of two rivers: Pozzo dei Pruni and Janni Mauro. The two waterways, at the height of the Clock Tower, joined in a single stream now covered: the Moticano. From the bottom of the valley the city climbs up the hills that embrace it. The extraordinary urban layout of the late nineteenth century, with 17 bridges crossing rivers and streams, made Modica so fascinating that it was defined in the first edition of the Treccani Encyclopedia as the most peculiar city in Italy after Venice.
Following the great flood of 1902, the Moticano was covered to avoid new floods and the city lost its fascinating bridges and its mills but acquired a new important artery. Thus was born Corso Umberto I, around which the most important district of the city developed. The design of the historic center is still enchanting: houses, baroque palaces and grandiose churches chase each other while narrow alleys and steep stairways open up in front of stunning monuments.

The countryside of Modica, featured by a dense network of “dry stone walls” that delimit the plots of land, is covered with massive carob trees, olive trees and prickly pears and offers truly suggestive landscapes.
In 2002, together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, the city was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

20km from the city center we find Marina di Modica with the wonderful towns of Maganuco, a very popular seaside village in summer, and Punta Regilione, the favourite destination of those who love pristine beaches. Modica is also famous for the production of cold worked chocolate, a tradition inherited this from the Spanish rulers in the sixteenth century. Initially handed down as a typical dessert of noble families, it has become common in recent years and a trendy product all over the world.