Duomo di San Giorgio


The high point of a trip to Modica – quite literally as it's up in Modica Alta – is the Duomo di San Giorgio, one of Sicily's most extraordinary baroque churches. Considered Rosario Gagliardi's great masterpiece, it stands in isolated splendour at the top of a majestic 250-step, 19th-century staircase, its sumptuous three-tiered facade towering above the medieval alleyways of the historic centre.

The lavish interior, a sunlit kaleidoscope of silver, gold and egg-shell blue, encapsulates all the hallmarks of early-18th-century Sicilian baroque. One of the two chapels flanking the central apse houses the equestrian statue of San Giorgio, which is carried through the town during the saint's annual festival in April. The saint's earthly remains are stored in the so-called Santa Arca (Holy Ark), located in the right nave. Interestingly, the Duomo was also dedicated to Sant’Ippolito, whose death is depicted in Cicalesius's 17th-century canvas Martirio di Sant'Ippolito (Martyrdom of St Hippolytus). Also noteworthy is an early 16th-century marble statue of the Madonna della Neve (Our Lady of the Snows), attributed to Giuliano Mancino and Bartolomeo Berrettaro.