During our second two weeks in Sicily, we checked out some nearby cities that friends had suggested: Piazza Armerina, Modica, and Ragusa. Each city has an old world charm, which made our visits extra special. The architecture, artwork, and cuisine in each place created a unique and wonderful experience.
This city is famous mainly for its Roman mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale. This Roman villa was built in the first part of the 4th century and contains the richest, most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world. The villa appeared to have several purposes: personal residences, business spaces, a basilica, a gym, and bathhouses. Plus, there were many other rooms with an unknown purpose.
We were amazed by how intact these mosaics are. Even the passage of time hasn’t disturbed them much. From afar, they look like huge frescoes, or even gigantic rugs, but up close you can see every single small tile meticulously put into place. I’m sure this was a long and painstaking process. The images in the mosaics depict everyday life, as well as stories, legends, and mythology.
Unfortunately, quite a bit of the area wasn’t open to the public, because of renovations. As a result, we didn’t see one of the most famous mosaics, also known as the “bikini girls”. It shows girls in bikinis playing sports, weightlifting, and horsing around. Jon was disappointed.
We didn’t go into the actual town, but we took some pictures of the Baroque Cathedral and the city.
A couple of days later, we went to the towns of Modica and Ragusa, Sicily. Both of these are very old cities, dating back to 1,000 – 2,000 BC.
Modica has ancient medieval buildings climbing up each side of a deep gorge. The city has two parts: Modica Alta (High Modica) and Modica Basso (Low Modica). Modica is known for its chocolate, which can be flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, mint, coffee, peppers, and orange. We stepped into a chocolate shop to sample some sweet crunchiness.
Aside from having lunch at a panini shop (they actually have a sister shop in NY), we wandered the streets and absorbed the atmosphere of this city, which quickly shut down at 1pm.
When we arrived in Ragusa, nothing was open since it was 2pm on a Sunday (when will we learn?). Still, we had a good time driving through both parts of the city, Ragusa Ilba and Ragusa Superiore. Simply observing the architecture was really enjoyable.
The churches and palazzi lined every route, and the Duomo was the centerpiece of Ragusa Superiore. We felt disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy more of this city, but we’re happy that we had the opportunity to see it!
We’re fortunate that we experienced more old world charm in Sicily! The old cities of Piazza Armerina, Modica, & Ragusa did not disappoint. Each one is unique in their own way, and they were so well preserved that we felt like we were stepping back into time…