|Modica, Santa Maria di Betlem|
I've often said that a lot of the problems Modica has with promoting tourism could be overcome if the tourist board and council would realise the importance of one word - aperto [open]. Nothing is more frustrating to a tourist who only has a day to spend in a certain location than to arrive at the most interesting or beautiful building in the place only to see a notice saying, "Chiuso - torni domani" ["Closed - come back tomorrow"].
To be fair, it doesn't only happen in Modica, in Sicily or even in the South but I do have to say that every time I have passed Modica's Church of Santa Maria di Betlem in recent years - this is the church with the famous crib featuring Sicilian characters - I have noticed that it has been closed and felt sorry for any hapless tourists visiting the city that day.
Now, though, an agreement has been signed between officials of the churches of Santa Maria, San Giorgio and San Pietro, a consortium of tourist companies and the cooperative Progresso Ibleo, which will be charged with the security of the churches during opening hours. Under the agreement, the churches will remain open all day during the tourist season.
Far be it from me to be cynical but I do hope that those concerned realise that the tourist season includes August and that "all day", to folk not from these parts, encompasses the hours between 1 and 5pm!
You may be interested in this 2010 article of mine for Italy Magazine, "The Bells of Santa Maria".