We arrived in Modica from Agrigento shortly before sunset, which treated us with a fantastic view of the city from a roadside view platform from the low slung sun. This city looked old, dense and thoroughly exciting to go explore. The Cathedral of San Giorgio took prime position, with a large and elegant staircase stretching out in front.
Getting to our hotel was a little more challenging with our car. We spoke to the reception at Modica Old Town Rooms who said it was going to be best to check in and drop off our bags, and then she would share some parking options with us. I’d managed to get our car semi-stuck up a narrow street in the process, and was lucky to only have the one other car trying to use the road, and a small amount of space to get out of their way.
Unfortunately, by the time we’d checked in and moved the car, the sun had set and darkness had truly encroached. The receptionist kindly gave a few suggestions of restaurants that we could try, so we went for the tourist option at A Putia Ro Vinu. We had to double check, because it was a large restaurant, but the place looked empty. I find the sight of an empty restaurant to be enormously depressing, but we were tired, Risa was hungry, and we were not motivated enough to search for something else.
I wasn’t all that hungry, but I was keen to try a few different plates, so their ‘tourist menu’ that sampled smaller portions of several of their signature dishes was perfect. Risa decided on some of the other plates, and together we ended up with enough food for a small family. The meal was by no means bad, but it wasn’t particularly great, either. Our starters came straight out of the kitchen, giving me the impression that they had just come out of the microwave – having never had the displeasure of working in a kitchen, I can’t tell if this is just common practise or not. We had so much food, that we got to the point of just sampling each of the plates that came out, leaving space for whatever was going to arrive next – and leaving space to be able to sleep comfortably. As we were leaving, we had to walk back through the main room, which was now absolutely full of tourists, making me rethink the pity I felt for them earlier.
The following day in the sunshine, the facades of the building in town were much more impressive than by the dim monochromatic street lighting. The superfluous details were so opulent, with floral carvings, and sweeping wrought iron balconies.
The churches were also quite different inside, featuring bright white walls, with complex engraving/embossing, gold leaf, and pastel shades. This area is famous for buildings of this era due to a significant earthquake that required massive scale reconstruction projects.
We’d spied the Saint George Cathedral from afar yesterday evening, and this morning we got to experience the full flight of stairs – half of which are concealed in narrow alleyways. Inside there was renovation taking place, so the majority of the roof was obscured by green meshing. But, what was still visible was exceptionally grand and delicate. I can’t think of a better word for Baroque style other than opulent, and the interior of this church was my very definition of opulence.
We continued walking through the narrow alleys behind the cathedral, making our way through the twisting and forking roads towards another lookout vista. We had a pretty good idea of where we were trying to go, but with the orientation of the roads, it was rather difficult to navigate without the assistance of our smart phones.
The view was good, but not as good as what we’d enjoyed last night (and in better light), so it was a little lacklustre.
All the climbing to get to this location had made us pretty hot, and suddenly all the gelati shops in town made sense. Of course we sampled a few of the flavours, and some of the chocolate from the dozens of chocolaterias with their unique, almost crunchy with sugar, chocolates.
We’d tried to find a special pizza place that was recommended by reception, however, it wasn’t where they marked it – and it was closed until dinner – so we started driving towards Syracuse. Risa found a small restaurant in Rossolini. Like most other cities, all the shops had their shutters closed, and looked out of business. There was almost no one walking in the streets, and it made the whole place feel abandoned. We were the only ones in this little family run establishment, and we soon had everyone fussing over us – fortunately for them, but the time we’d finished our fantastic pasta dishes, some of the other tables had filled up and the staff were rushing around looking after the other customers, which made me feel much happier for them.