The adventures in Sicily continue…
After a wonderful, relaxing time in postcard-perfect Taormina it was time to pick up our rental car and head south to the apartment we had rented via AirBnB in Modica (click the link to see the apartment we rented–you’re welcome!). Honestly, Modica didn’t receive much “press” in the Sicily guidebook we had purchased, but it looked central to the various locales we wanted to explore and we had heard that Modica boasted wonderful views. And, wow, Modica truly delivered!
Truly, we might have been the only other foreigners in Modica as we didn’t hear a lick of English, Spanish, or French during our five nights in the magical town that spills down a hillside and back up. And that was pure magic as we love destinations that have yet to be discovered. No McDonald’s or Starbucks, hurrah! Only local cafes and eateries… Markets… Heaven.
And the views… See for yourself in our images, below.
John and I rented a car and headed south on the highway (super easy, even the toll booths and gas stations were simple to navigate). First stop: Siracusa, aka Syracuse, and the bustling, charming island of Ortygia situated just off the coast. Ortygia is located at the eastern end of Syracuse and is separated from it by a narrow channel. Two bridges connect the island to mainland Sicily. We parked our rental car and spent the afternoon exploring the isle and its fort, Roman ruins, and the Sicilian Baroque cathedral that incorporates a Greek-era Doric temple within its structure. It was a sunny, hot day, and we loved wandering along the seawall and wandering the narrow streets overflowing with crumbling palaces. If you are familiar with the amazing Ortigia Sicilia body-products line, they hail from this stunning island (purchase them online and bring a taste of Sicily home!).
Here’s John overlooking the sea upon the island of Ortygia. As it was such a wonderful, sun-kissed weekend afternoon, the island bustled with visitors which made for spot-on people watching.
After a few hours of exploring Ortygia, John and I took a seat at the busy, charming Gran Cafe dell Duomo for fresh-squeezed, tart lemonade and arancini. What are arancini, you might ask? A Sicilian specialty, arancini are stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried. The most common fillings are “al ragù” or “al sugo,” filled with ragù, mozzarella, and/or caciocavallo cheese, and often peas, and the ham and mozzarella or besciamella stuffings. The arancini are wonderfully filling and fun to eat as they can be rather messy as you use your hands, no silverware. John looks peevish, no? Maybe he was really hungry!
After spending the day in Syracuse/Ortygia, John and I piled back into the car and headed southwest to the wonderful village of Modica where he had booked an apartment via AirBnB. Here we are entering the city. I think I made John go around the traffic circle that leads into Modica twice so I could snap a photo AND give directions. Rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1693, Modica boasts stunning Baroque architecture that has made the town a UNESCO Heritage Site. Modica is also known for its chocolate production. Honestly, I found the chocolate not to my liking–it seemed a bit gritty–but maybe that was just me (and John!). Modica consists of two urban centers, Modica Alta (Upper Modica) and Modica Bassa (Lower Modica). The older upper part is perched on the rocky top of the southern Ibeli hill, the lower part is built on the lower slopes and valley below. The walk down from Modica Alta to Modica Bassa reveals vistas of the lower town and involves many, many steps.
The AirBnB apartment that we rented in Modica was absolutely wonderful–beautifully designed and boasting eye-popping views. John and I especially loved the charming terrace where we would settle in for breakfast and evening cocktails. The vistas were absolutely fantastic. The AirBnB owner had generously left the apartment stocked with bottles of wine for us to enjoy–so kind!
Modica boasts heaps and heaps of steps leading ever higher, and John and I so loved wandering up and down the hillsides that surround this charming city. Great exercise to boot! I loved this stairway framed with grape vines and agave plants.
After climbing up one particularly steep hill off Modica’s main drag, John and I were rewarded with this amazing view. We tried to find our rental apartment across the valley and finally located it.
Another stunning view onto Modica from high above. Modica proved to be the perfect home base from which to set out and explore southern Sicily. We were thrilled to come home each and every night after a long day of adventures. More on our visits to Ragusa and Noto and other nearby towns in the next blog post, be sure to check back in!