Chocolate sculpture exhibition.Chocolate sculpture exhibition.

Modica, a southeastern Sicilian city mainly renowned for its baroque architecture – for which it earned the title of World Heritage city by Unesco – is also known worldwide for its very particular chocolate.

Every year the city organises a three-day chocolate festival, which is attended by thousands of people who travel to Modica. This year the festival will be held between December 8 and 10.

Modica is built against the sides of a deep valley and is somewhat divided between the Lower City and the Higher City [Modica bassa and Modica alta].

The whole area has exceptional churches and palaces. The institutional and administrative buildings are found at the lower end, the Corso, which was once a flowing river. Here, you can find exceptional palaces, the house of noble families, as well as the municipal offices and all the museums of the city, among which is the Museum of Chocolate found at the Palace of Culture.

Modica is very close to Pozzallo

Modica is very close to Pozzallo, where the catamaran docks, and also close to Comiso [Air Malta will start flying there on December 18].

Still, the bus from Catania airport takes only one-and-a-half hours. Today Modica is very well known among Maltese travellers because of its attraction but also because of its excellent restaurants, which are among the best in Sicily.

Modica is surrounded by other beautiful baroque cities such as Ragusa and Scicli. [A growing Maltese community lives in the countryside just outside the city.]

The choice of B&Bs and hotels is very wide and one can find cheap B&Bs right up to excellent five-star hotels.

Students learning the art of chocolate making.Students learning the art of chocolate making.

The city has deep historic links with Malta, especially during the period of the Knights. The Grimaldis made it their home; there are seven Grimaldi palaces [the most important of which is Palazzo Vassallo Grimaldi, where the Grimaldi Foundation is and is well worth a visit]. The Knights used to buy chocolate and sweets for their feasts from Modica.

The chocofest is a festival of chocolate but its activities are very varied and spread over a wide area. There are many cultural activities. [The city also boasts one of the most active theatres].

You can taste wines and chocolates and eat excellently. You can see how Modica’s special chocolate is made and admire the many chocolate sculptures. Modica and the chocolate festival are well worth a visit.

Dr Ray Bondin is preparing a dossier about Modica and its chocolate for Unesco, since the chocolate is still prepared the traditional way.

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