Italians from Milan and points north have been quietly discovering Sicily’s Ragusa region for the last several years, drawn to towns like Modica and Scicli for their Unesco-protected Baroque architecture, silent stretches of beach and culinary legacy. And now the region is home to stylish inns and Michelin-starred restaurants that blend in with the charmingly crumbling plazas and palazzos.
Hotel La Moresca The Milanese hotel designer Carlomaria Grassi restored the gorgeous stonework and painted tiles in this 18th-century villa. It has 15 guest rooms along with a modern glass atrium Grassi built in the garden. More like a house than a hotel, it’s the best place from which to base an exploration of Ragusa. Via Dandolo, 63, Marina di Ragusa; 011-39-0932-239495; doubles from $342.
Palazzo Hedone Opened in July 2009, this sprawling 18th-century party house in the hills overlooking Scicli sleeps 24. It has two pools and can be booked with extra services like private chefs and guided excursions around Sicily. Via Loreto 51, Scicli; 011-39-0932-841187; weekly rental from $16,331.
Ristorante Duomo Behind the walls of a Baroque building, the two-Michelin-starred Ciccio Sultano puts a modern spin on regional seafood dishes (the restaurant is famous for reviving long forgotten recipes) like squid ink pasta in an array of sauces, pairing them with a stellar wine list. Via Capitano Bocchieri, 31, Ragusa Ibla; 011-39-0932-651265; entrees $48 to $55.
Trattoria di Pesce Donnalina This oceanfront restaurant in Ragusa’s marina is referred to by some locals as “fish a hundred ways.” The restaurant’s glass box interior might be tacky, but the fresh sardines, grouper and tuna baked in lemon or fried in cornmeal are superb and abundant. Via Doria 76; 011-39-0932-239888; entrees $16 to $25.
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto Franco Ruta’s ancestors put Modica on the culinary map in 1880 with their chocolate factory and boutique. Today the grainy chocolate is still made using traditional Aztec methods and Ivory Coast cacao. Beside the dozens of different flavors of chocolate in production, Bonajuto also whips up thick chocolate liqueurs spiked with peperoncino. Corso Umberto I, 159, Modica; 011-39-0932-941225.
Duomo Di San Giorgio Some travelers hike up to Modica’s duomo only for the view of the Lego-stacked houses on the surrounding hillsides. But the 18th-century church itself — with intricate stonework and frescos in a riot of pastels — is a prime specimen of Baroque exuberance. Salita Duomo, Modica; 011-39-0932-220085.