MODICA (Sicilian : MUORICA ; Greek : MOTOUKA ; Latin : MUTYCA) is a city and commune in the Province of RAGUSA, Sicily, southern Italy.
According to THUCYDIDES, the city was founded in 1360 BC and was inhabited by SICELS in the 7th century BC. It was probably a dependency of Syracuse. MODICA was occupied by the Romans after the battle of the EGADI ISLANDS against the Carthaginians in the PUNIC WARS (241 BC), together with Syracuse and all of Sicily. MODICA became one of the 35 DECUMAN (spontaneously submitted) cities of the island and was oppressed by the praetor VERRES. It became an independent MUNICIPIUM, and apparently a place of some consequence. The city is also mentioned among the island towns both by Pliny and Ptolemy, and though its name is not found in the itineraries, it is again mentioned by the Geographer of Ravenna.
In 845, MODICA was captured by the Arabs during the Muslim Conquest of Sicily. They referred to the city as MUDIQAH. The year after its capture, the Arabs fortified its citadels and it, subsequently, prospered under their rule. In 1091, the conquest of MODICA and the entire VAL di NOTO, ended the long-lasting war of the Normans, led by Roger of Hauteville, against the Arabs.
On Assumption Day (August 15, 1474), Christians wrecked brutal havoc on the Jewish dwellers of the CARTELLONE area of MODICA, the so-called STRAGE dell ASSUNTA (Massacre of the Assumption).
Later, an earthquake of 1693 destroyed the entire VAL di NOTO, and to a slighter lesser extent, in MODICA. Annexed to Italy in 1860, MODICA remained the District Capital until 1926, when it was included in the Province of Ragusa.
MODICA consists of two urban centres : 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 steps, and not many attempt the reverse journey on foot.
During the last century, the city has extended and developed new suburbs which include SACRO CUORE (or SORDA), MONSERRATO, IDRIA, these are often referred to as Modern MODICA, and both old and modern quarters of the city are today joined by one of Europe’s high bridge, the GUERRIERI Bridge that is 980ft long.
Despite being ravaged by earthquakes in 1613 & 1693, and floods in 1833, MODICA has retained some of the most beautiful architecture in Sicily. Much of the city was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake with imposing and conspicuous urban monuments in the Sicilian Baroque Style.
The large Baroque Cathedral of SAN GIORGIO, is dedicated to Saint George. While the Cathedral was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1693, like many other parts of the city, its roots are in the Middle Ages. From the front of the Cathedral, a staircase of 300 steps leads down towards MODICA BASSA.
Another notable Church is SAN PIETRO, dedicated to Saint Peter, featuring a principal façade, crowned by a typical Sicilian Baroque bell-tower, 161ft high.
MERCEDARI PALACE or PALAZZO MERCEDARI is a Palace and civic ethnographical museum, built in the 18th century, as a place for the Fathers of MERCEDARI, attached to the S. Maria del Grazie Sanctuary. Today, the Palace contains the Library and Museum. It often hosts Classical Music Recitals.
The economy the area once principally agricultural produces olives, carobs, legumes, cereals. An extraordinary product is the famous CHOCOLATE of MODICA, produced with an ancient and original Aztec recipe. The city now has factories producing textiles, furniture and cars. Tourism is also an important industry, since MODICA entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
This incredible town melts the heart of any visitor, and is a dream destination for anyone who loves art, food and having fun. It is a spot of the world in everyone’s heart. MODICA is a place to go to in all seasons ——– charming in winter and amazing under summer’s light and whoever has the chance to pass through MODICA, will never forget the sunsets over the sea and the bars on the beach. During the mild winters, the quaint village streets are full of young people and great music. All year round, MODICA never disappoints its visitors., who will hardly resist a second bite.