Following a devastating earthquake in 1693, leading architects were commissioned to rebuild eight ruined towns in Val di Noto in southeast Sicily. Painstakingly planned and designed in the exuberant Baroque style popular at the time, they are now protected as an UNESCO World Heritage Site for their harmonious town planning and exceptional architectural detail.
Ragusa, Modica and Noto are three of the best towns to visit as their contrasting characters offer a broad overview of the region. A joy to explore, in each you'll find elaborate churches opening onto palatial squares and streets lined with the grand mansions of noble families.
These towns offer much to admire in the way of Baroque architecture, but they’re also places to while away a few hours. Explore the balcony-lined streets or simply install yourself in a piazzafront cafe with an afternoon espresso or aperitivo.Italy specialist Kim
Things to see and do in Ragusa, Modica and Noto
Less visited than some of the towns in the region, Ragusa's historic core is a patchwork of elegant town houses, ornate churches, bench-lined squares, stylish shops and restaurants. Set on a hillside, steep steps link the narrow, winding streets and their extravagant palazzi and tranquil chapels.
The town's most famous landmark is the cathedral with its three-tiered façade facing a handsome sloping square. Somehow calmer, more fashionable and more exclusive than its neighbors, Ragusa makes a marvelous place to stroll, allowing you to discover chic boutiques, shady gardens, medieval churches and Michelin-starred restaurants.
One of Sicily's most powerful towns in the 14th century, Modica remains an imposing place, its tightly packed old town a tumbling mass of pastel houses clinging to the slopes of a hillside. A 250-step staircase leads to the Duomo di San Giorgio, a Baroque treasure that is as opulent inside as out.
Like the other towns of the region, Modica is littered with elegant mansions and fine churches yet its character is more vibrant with numerous cafes, bars and restaurants to linger in as you navigate the steep-sloping streets. Modica is also renowned for its fine chocolate with many shops offering free tastings as you explore.
Noto is nothing less than a meticulously planned Baroque masterpiece. Rebuilt in an ebullient style from the local honey-colored tufa stone, it's a particularly atmospheric place.
The main street, Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, is a grand thoroughfare lined with lavish palazzi and sumptuous churches, including the impressive Duomo, which has recently been restored.
Perhaps the town's greatest joy lies in wandering the side streets, happening upon grand squares and sipping a coffee in an intimate cafe with a view.
Suggested Ragusa, Modica & Noto itinerary
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Ragusa, Modica & Noto, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Ragusa, Modica & Noto
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Ragusa, Modica & Noto
- Syracuse 33 miles away
- Villa Romana del Casale 37 miles away
- Mount Etna 59 miles away
- Sicily 62 miles away
- Agrigento 69 miles away
- Taormina 72 miles away
- Palermo 111 miles away
- Marsala 140 miles away
- Erice and Trapani 140 miles away
- Capri 252 miles away
- The Amalfi Coast 257 miles away
- Sorrento 257 miles away
- Pompeii 265 miles away
- Herculaneum 269 miles away
- Naples 272 miles away
- Matera 278 miles away
- Puglia 297 miles away
- Alberobello 300 miles away
Accommodation choices for Ragusa, Modica & Noto
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Ragusa, Modica & Noto. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.