Home » Known, Scicli and Modica, itinerary in the heart of the Sicilian baroque

Known, Scicli and Modica, itinerary in the heart of the Sicilian baroque

by Ada Parisi
5 min read

Today I'll tell you a short but intense weekend spent in one of the most beautiful corners of Sicily, What I call the triangle of the Baroque: Hadrian's known or Val di Noto. For the accuracy, I visited the three municipalities of Noto, Modica and Scicli, that from 2002 are part of the Unesco heritage, along with five other Sicilian cities: Catania, Militello Val di Catania, Palazzolo Acreide, Caltagirone. We are in the heart of the late Sicilian baroque, a style associated with the disastrous earthquake of 1693 which hit the entire South eastern Sicily, razing many countries. Their reconstruction was carried out following a common style and using common materials like limestone, that is precisely the Sicilian baroque. And Val di Noto was reborn like the Phoenix, from the ashes, playing with shapes, erecting palaces and churches, embroidering balconies and attics, acquerellando faces and flowers on the walls and gates, creating an original style that in these areas we can admire now for over 300 years. Is, If we want to, We can say that a natural disaster was born their luck. In this post I suggest a route from 3 days just, at the end of which I'm sure you'll want to stay, to visit the other Baroque Unesco centres. If you are or will be in Sicily, have a look to all my TRAVEL ITINERARY SICILIANI for ideas, inspiration and tips on where to eat, what to see and things to buy.

KNOWN: In Noto, in winter, If the mistral wind blows, the sky is usually clear and after the 14 you can enjoy the best view of the city. Because sunlight illuminates the facades of all the most beautiful palaces and churches making them sparkle like molten gold. So I found this city into a day of January. Known, known as ' the garden of stone ', the capital of Sicilian baroque, glows with light. To visit, matches the door Ferdinandea and follow the main course at least twice in full, looking first right and then left and making small incursions along the side streets. You will never tire of admiring in detail as it has here the Baroque style, made of embroidered yellow ocher tones that look stones, from the balconies of palaces to the peaks of the steeples. It is a city that's a headache, because you will always uphold the look, above you, to not miss the sirens, the Tritons, the faces of women, men, animals and the floral and geometric motifs that decorate each balcony.

Climb onto the roof of the Church of San Carlo, through a narrow stone spiral staircase (You'll have to grab a rope): the views across the rooftops worth the hassle. Passed on via Nicolaci, where the homonymous Palace and its wonderful balconies and where in May there is theInfiorata, that turns the stone garden in a garden in bloom-seeing with a child. Be sure to make a stop for a snow cone of toasted almonds at the bar Sicily by Corrado Assenza, where you will also find the blancmange, both in fresh and in the version with toasted almonds, the bread of Iblei, the Croissant of the place covered with sugar, the fancy cakes, the cannoli. Is, If you like salty, take a trip to Palermo Grill located next to the Church of San Domenico: the bread and cake is as good as in Palermo, and there are also the slices to Palermo, the arancine, the scacce, the bread with the meusa.

SCICLI – When in 2003 I visited Scicli, I found a nice town but decadent, careless, keeper of a hidden beauty waiting to return to the light. After thirteen years, the changes were evident. For the better. And this town of 27 thousand inhabitants, immersed in a territory characterized by Karst rocks and dotted with cave, now demonstrates that he understood what is the way for development. The tourist brand Marebarocco remember that Scicli is a few steps from the sea, with approximately 15 kilometres of sandy beaches and turquoise sea in the hamlets of Donnalucata, Sampieri, Cava d'aliga. Its tourist is now clearer and better exploited. Its history and its convenient location just a few steps from the coast, of the rest, made hub for all peoples who inhabited: City decumana under the Romans, conquered by the Arabs in the 12th century, aragonese town has a castle on the Hill of San Matteo (Castle of , belonging to the County of Modica between the 13th and 16th centuries, before the 1693 earthquake which destroyed it almost entirely. The Baroque reconstruction back standing. Among the churches don't miss the Madonna delle Milizie, di San Bartolomeo, of Saint Matthew, Saint John the Evangelist. Among the buildings: the Palazzo Spadaro, Palazzo Fava, Palazzo Penna, Palazzo Beneventano. Don't forget Villa pen and the Capuchin monastery and the beautiful Piazza Barger.

Today, the via Francesco Mormino Penna with its succession of elegant eighteenth century buildings is just one reason to visit the historic centre of Scicli and, at the same time, It is one of the reasons that allowed in Singapore to enter the Unesco. But if you want to discover another face of Scicli, different from the noble, bright Baroque, worth the move to suburbs, St Bartholomew's Church and walk all the way Earn, in the heart of Chiafura. Those who know and visited Matera can rediscover the cave houses, who here remained inhabited until the early sixties by the poorest families. Carlo Levi, They denounced with his books the shame of Matera, He also visited the inhabitants of Scicli. Then an episode to the Archaeological Park of the caves of Chiafura, that still unfortunately is awaiting a definitive accommodation, from the point of view of securing both the visitability caves.

MODICA – Birthplace of the poet Salvatore Quasimodo, Modica is an open air museum: the beating heart of Baroque triangle, starting point for anyone who wants to get to know the South eastern Sicily. With over 55 thousand inhabitants, This city is divided into three main districts: Modica Alta, Modica Bassa and Modica Sorda (the newest). To visit is part of the Central Corso Umberto I, Grand Boulevard which follows the bed of two rivers (Wishing well pruni and Ianni Mauro) who were buried after several floods, that until the early 1900s caused many casualties in the city. Studded with beautiful palaces and churches, including the Church of San Pietro (in Unesco list), the Corso Umberto gives us an idea of how important was this place, It became a county in Norman (XI century), then under the Angioini and, especially, during the seven years of the Aragonese domination became a powerful feudal. Immerse yourself in its historic district, at the foot of the rock within walking distance of the Palace and the Church of Saint Anne. Here the streets are tight, silence, broken by the shouting of the inhabitants. Along the climb, the view opens and goes to the castle of the counts of Modica and the clock tower, the headquarters of the political and administrative power. Don't miss the Chiesa del Carmine, one of the few buildings that, with its convent, have withstood the force of the earthquake of 1693. But the Palace De Leva, the Palazzo degli Studi, the Grimaldi Palace, in the neo-Renaissance style.


Modica Alta is a nice treat for those lands in this Center. Compared to Modica Bassa is less crowded, more private, with so many places to see. To get there you can take the more than 160 steps leading to the Church of San Giorgio, with its adjacent and beautiful roof garden, the garden of the Lead. After taking a few photographs from these terraces over the city, Navigate to the Church of Santa Teresa. If you want to breathe the medieval atmosphere move even higher towards the Church of Santa Maria del gesu and visit his monastery, restored some years ago. In the upper town, a visit is a must and some great pictures on the steps of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, overlooking the city at the top.

Sicilian street food

Sicilian street food

WHAT TO EAT: Sicily, so rich in agricultural and gastronomic diversity, also in this area offers unique and special food products, starting from almond, that in the plain of Known (in Avola) find an excellent climate: the ice-blended almonds of Avola deserves a glimpse, fresh toasted both versions, and likewise all the sweets made with almonds. Sicily, so rich in agricultural and gastronomic diversity, also in this area offers unique and special food products, starting from almond, that in the plain of Known (in Avola) find an excellent climate: the ice-blended almonds of Avola deserves a glimpse, fresh toasted both versions, and likewise all the sweets made with almonds. Two restaurants that I recommend absolutely not to Miss, the first in Scicli, the second in Modica. Two restaurants that I recommend absolutely not to Miss, the first in Scicli, the second in Modica.

Restaurant Satra, in Scicli

Restaurant Satra, in Scicli

WHERE TO EAT: In Singapore there is SATRA, in the heart of Central via Mormino Penna: the chefs Rita Raju and Emanuele Di Stefano built a North European metropolitan environment inside an old warehouse Sicilian stone, getting a result linear and clean. The restaurant is open for three years just. The menu is really interesting, with combinations in perfect balance between tradition and innovation, supported by a strict technique to passion. Soon will be available three tasting menus, But even ordering a la carte is hard to go wrong: yummy macco di fave on cream cheese, with fried squid and fennel. Outstanding dessert, an ice cream with saffron and fennel ice cream, with thyme honey and almond waffles. Treatment by Michelin, with chef's welcome, pre dessert, offer of spirits. Extensive wine list, especially Regionals, but with space to Italy and to the international. Prices are obviously above the local average, but the quality is indisputable and chefs have made a clear choice as to positioning and therefore the costs: I am certain that this restaurant will come away and within a short time.

The Colonel's Inn, in Modica

The Colonel's Inn, in Modica

In Rome there is The Colonel's Inn, owned by the family Factor (It also runs the four-star namesake) where you feel like you are dining in a house in Sicily in the early twentieth century. The menu is based on raw materials, often considered ' poor ', of choice, little work and with a distinctive Sicilian touch, Despite the general easing of condiments. Delicious appetizers, good early (Don't miss the spaghetti with anchovies, toasted almonds and Marjoram) but I must confess a fondness for meat dishes, made really well, especially the long wing (cotta pink to heart) with cream of fennel and crunchy vegetables and Pork fillet with mashed potatoes and seared chard. Interesting the cigar crisp with almond cream to slight hint of Tangerine and dark chocolate sauce. Value for very affordable price and extensive wine list, not only Sicilians, with markups though quite high.

ANTICA DOLCERIA BONAJUTO and BREWERY TARI’ – Welcome to the Temple of chocolate. Modica is a city that preserves ancient secrets and recipes such as chocolate was produced in Mexico, by the Aztecs. The recipe came in Sicily thanks to the Spaniards and is based on a very simple principle: the mix of cocoa and sugar processed “When cold” and by hand, without the aid of machinery, which binds to the Mexican tradition that used stones (calls “metate”) to grind the cocoa beans. The grain and the great crispness differ sharply on Modica chocolate from all other. For many the chocolate of Modica is a pleasure without equal, others do not consider either chocolate because it has that's melting’ in the mouth to which they are accustomed. In fact, gourmet is a niche product that is increasingly conquering Italians and not only. In order to know the art of master chocolatiers just through the door of the laboratory of’Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, in corso Umberto I, Active since 1880 and founded by Francis Bonajuto. Today the tradition is carried on by Franco Ruta, descendant of Bonajuto-Ruta. The Dolceria manufactures his chocolate from cocoa mass, obtained in turn from cocoa beans. The mass is carried at a temperature of not more than 45 degrees (processing “When cold”), then it is mixed with the sugar and kept at a constant temperature, so the sugar melts, Hence the characteristic grain of Modica chocolate. Following the phase of cooling and the formation of Pats, made by hand through the beating: the chocolate is stored in metal shapes that are jokes in order to homogenise the surface. The mixture is flavored with spices, fruit and flowers (more than 30 types) and next to classic vanilla, cinnamon and chilli, You can find coffee chocolate couverture, with orange, carob, with sea salt etc. The final taste is influenced by the percentage of cocoa solids, ranging from 45% in the traditional flavors and can be up to 90%. The Modica chocolate is naturally gluten free, has added cocoa butter and can also be enjoyed as a beverage, Once dissolved in water. It can be combined with the spirits and a good beer. And a local brewery, the Brewery Tari driven by youngsters Fabio and Luca (modicani architect and engineer who wanted to follow their passion), wanted to interpret the tradition and its history, proposing a chocolate beer. They called Bonajuto: cocoa beans, brown sugar and vanilla in the recipe to create a soft drink coming, deep roasted malts where coffee date notes are combined with those of cocoa. Are nine labels at this brewery since January 2010 is pursuing a style made of creativity and oldest beer tradition, that does not forget the place where opera. It is obvious from the choice of ingredients: citrus fruits, carob flour, grape. In short, Sicily in glass.


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