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Trip Overview
Part 1: Palermo
Part 2: More Palermo
Part 3: Segesta and Trapani
Part 4: The Greeks and Longi
Part 5: Gangi
Part 6: Siracusa and Modica
Part 7: Enna
Part 8: Mondello and Rome

Sicily Part 6

Siracusa and ModicaTHE WHEREABOUTS
Southeast Sicily: Siracusa, Modica and Val di Noto.

Siracusa | Modica and Beyond

After Gangi, I was nervous about my luck—and I should have been. Siracusa, once a mighty Greek power, was a dud. But even more so was the hotel I’d chosen. I thought it would be cool to stay in a former convent—what had I been thinking? It wasn’t the ghosts of the departed sisters who were the problem. The sisters still own the buildings and run their hotel as if it were still a convent with little cheer, no heat, and plentiful religious reading matter.

But that was not all. One part of the hotel is also a centro di benessere, a wellness center, that offers more than massages. On the same bulletin board that announced a lunch menu, the benessere center posted their offerings for two different kinds of colon cleansing…

After only one day in Siracusa with the nuns and the tourists, we decided to cut our losses and move to Modica, a baroque city that was to have been a day trip from Siracusa. Modica, like Ragusa and Noto (and five other towns) are situated in the Val di Noto, a geographical area dominated by the limestone Iblean plateau. In the late 1600s a massive earthquake destroyed the area and the towns were rebuilt in the baroque style that makes them UNESCO World Heritage sites today. They sit on steep cliffs or in valleys of rocky countryside amidst orchards of lemon, olive and almond trees. Several Michelin-stared restaurants make their homes in these towns. They are all as photogenic as Milanese models.

With our short time in and around Modica, our main impression is that we must return for a long stay. It is a vibrant, lively place, especially in the excitement before Easter.

Our first afternoon in Modica, we had lunch at Osteria dei Sapori Perduti (restaurant of forgotten flavors) where locals and tourists fill the place to taste great traditional food. When we entered, I spoke Italian and they seated us. Then we looked at the menu they had give us—and looked and looked. It was written in what looked like Russian with not a recognizable word. I am often mistaken for something other than an American because so few Americans speak Italian—French, Belgian, whatever—so I thought maybe they think we are Russian. In any case, the menus were incomprehensible. When our waitress came to take our order, we were still confused and I explained about not being Russian. I pointed to the menu, and she paused for second. No, no, no, the menu is in Sicilian! I don’t know what we were thinking because the alphabet wasn’t Cyrillic, in fact, it looked closer to Romanian with its diacritical marks. After two weeks in Sicily, we’d encountered our first 100% Sicilian. The girl laughed with us and gave us a bilingual menu. What idiots—the “not” Russians…

People in Modica are wearing light down jackets and it was almost 70 today.