Arrived in Modica which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. It has been inhabited since the era of the Siculi culture (1300-700 BCE). The name Sicily comes from this early people. They were eventually absorbed into what is known as Magna Graecia. They are mentioned in the Odyssey by Homer. Modica rebelled against Roman rule in 212 BCE and thanks to its strategic location became one of the most important towns in medieval and Renaissance Sicily. From 844-1091 Modica was an important Arab city called Mohac. So it has quite a diverse history.
It is perched on a rocky outcropping between two rivers that flooded so that they chanelled them into culverts and built the main street over the top. As you walk on the mail street between the two hills (like in a gorge) you can sense where the river flowed. Then of course there was the great earthquake of 1693 that devastated Modica as well as the other towns in this region. The rebuilding, unlike in Noto, followed the original layout of the streets, up the sides of the two steep hills with wealthy families building their palaces down the center. These were flooded out at some point and they moved them up the hill.
Modica is known for its chocolate, introduced here by the Spaniards in the Middle Ages who had brought cocoa beans from the Aztecs in Mexico. It’s still made the same way it was then, 1000 years ago and is called glass chocolate. It is made from only cacao and sugar. The cacoa beans are toasted and then ground using a metate (like a mill stone). The beans are gently warmed, sugar is added though it never gets hotter than 40 degrees centigrade, hence “glass” crunchy, not smooth. Dark chocolate only with some added flavors like nuts, citrus, etc.
The TV commercial goes like this: An American is stuck in a tree with his parachute and a little girl comes along, he offers her a Hershey bar, and she pulls out a Modica chocolate bar. It’s yummy, may try to bring some home.
So all this about hills brings us to the title of this post- lots of steps and lots of interesting views of both sides of the valley. We really like this town- it’s lively, the food is amazing (good up until now but this food is fabulous), and we are getting our exercise! Good if we want to eat lots of chocolate.