Modica has been in the travel news a lot lately. Here are links to two recent articles with recommended itineraries for your Sicilian travels. Take note – Modica’s Antica Dolceria Bonajuto gets a shout-out in Vogue’s Sicily Article and we couldn’t agree more. The Telegraph also has this pretty extensive Sicily guide with a Modica mention as well. Perhaps the British Museum’s exhibition, Sicily: Culture and Conquest, is generating some well-deserved interest in the island?
Last summer, the city of Modica added a very handy ‘novelty’ train to the list of things to do and see in the city – it was a huge hit and tourists enthusiastically got on board. For the cost of 5 Euros, Modica’s ‘trennino’ will take you up to Modica Alta and past San Giorgio while you get to enjoy the incredible views of the city without have to endure the steep climb in 40+ degree heat! The tour, complete with an audio guide recording, takes about an hour and winds its way around Alta, stopping in front of San Giovanni at the very top where you have the option to get off, visit the belvedere and make your own way back to Modica Bassa. You can choose to stay on, of course, and it will take you back to the beginning: in front of the Tourist Information office across the street from San Pietro.
I’d highly recommend taking the train up after dinner: the nighttime view from the ‘pizzo’ (belvedere) is lovely AND Rappa Enoteca (Corso Santa Teresa 97-99) will be open by that time of day. Rappa is a new enoteca and wine store in Modica Alta that is not to be misssed. The owners are lovely people, the setting is very charming (they’ve taken over the piazza of the church across the street) and they specialize in Sicilian wine from small producers and offer small plates of charcuterie and cheeses – all very Brooklyn!
Modica’s chocolate-themed festival seems to have finally settled on a date in December, the first weekend in December, to be exact. This BBC article about ChocoModica was sent to me by former guests and worth a read. Although chocolate is abundant in Modica year-round, a festival is always a more….well, festive experience! Plus, you’ll get to see a lot of chocolates made to look like other things, from flowers to little wrenches.
This is kind of a Sicilian specialty, the food-that-looks-like-other-things thing, since you can often find marzipan made to look like all kinds of stuff.
I came across this smart* little wine review in the New York Times.
(*Not only because I agree with their number 1 pick!)
Many Sicilian wine makers will happily organize a tour and tasting if you call ahead – in my experience, most discourage walk-ins. Gulfi, which wasn’t mentioned in the article, but produces excellent Mount Etna reds, is located near Modica in Chiaramonte Gulfi. If you’re in the Southeast and you don’t have a lot of travel time or don’t plan on visiting western Sicily or the Enta region, then Gulfi might be a good choice. At Gulfi, you can also reserve a table for lunch or dinner (with wine pairings of course!) in their beautiful dining room which overlooks the vineyards. The advantage of visiting a large-scale producer such as Gulfi is that they have vineyards all over Sicily including Mt. Etna and Western Sicily. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to taste an compare the Sicilian varietals that everyone’s talking about!
Accursio Craparo’s restaurant in Modica Bassa has just been granted 1 Michelin star. Former chef of La Gazza Ladra in Modica Alta, he struck out on his own in 2014 and opened Accursio in Modica Bassa, next to our favourite caffé (Caffé Dell’Arte). If you’ve seen the Sicily Unpacked episode on Modica, he’s the chef they feature. You can choose from a 4- or 6-course tasting menu (Sea, Land or Classic) or order à la carte. The wine list has an excellent selection of Sicilian, French and German bubblies, whites and reds and a smattering of wines from other regions in Italy, but most are Sicilian. Given that he is from a seaside town, the menu has many more fish and seafood options than you’d normally find in a Modican restaurant and according to our omnivorous friends, both the fish and meat dishes were delicious. The food is excellent, modern Sicilian food and the decor, mid-century Scandinavian meets rustic Sicilian, is lovely. It does cost 2 to 3 times the price of many nearby trattorias, but if you feel like splurging, I’d go for it.
On our last night in Modica last summer, our friends took us to Il Girasole. It’s a little harder to find, in fact we’d never even heard of it before (it was once #1 on TripAdvisor – who knew?), but we were very pleasantly surprised. It’s cheap, unbelievably cheap for the quality – 2 people could have a couple of courses and wine for under 30 Euros. If you have a look at their menu online, (follow the link above) there is an English menu posted if you scroll past the Italian version. It’s simple Sicilian food and I have to say that the grilled vegetables and fennel pasta are outstanding. Because Il Girasole doesn’t have a patio you’d think that getting a table, even at the height of tourist season in August, would be easy, but no, we had to arrive early to secure a table and leave before the dinner rush. Reservations are recommended!