Friday, May 19, 2006


Twelve euros today for an ice cream and two gin and tonics at the Caffè del Portico in Modica Bassa. That’s up two euros from when I used to sit there last year! Their ice creams are good and come with little coloured wafers in the shape of hats and they mix a good g and t, but I could get a meal for that price up here in the Sorda district. Come to think of it, I could get the same combination further down at Bar Ciacera for about five euros. Mind you, I don’t know what they do to the g and t in there – it just doesn’t taste right – maybe they put the ice in after the tonic. I suppose the Portico can charge a higher price because it is likely to get the passing trade of the tourists as they make their way along to Santa Maria [a lovely church where there is a famous terracotta crib].

Round the corner here there is a trattoria, called, quite simply, Trattoria, where you can eat well for ten or twelve euros. [A trattoria will have a limited, local menu and / or a set menu. The dishes will usually be beautifully cooked.] On a Sunday, they serve rabbit cooked with olives, a typical local dish, and very good it is, too. I know at least one person who comes from Ragusa every Sunday just for this. However, I am not a wine drinker and they don’t keep gin and tonic there, so I don’t go as often as I used to. I do like to relax with my aperitivo, as you will have gathered.

Bar Metro, opposite the Post Office, is a pleasant place to recuperate over a lemon tea [yes, I do actually drink tea as well!] after a long encounter with Poste Italiane. They serve a nice, complimentary, little plate of cakes or biscuits with the tea and it quite revives me. If I go there at aperitivo time, their g and t is fine.

Bar Follie, right at the far end of the Via Sacro Cuore, is also very relaxing. It has a quiet, enclosed garden area and they produce good, fresh, simple salads and make a sublime risotto.

Then there is Rosy Bar, around the corner in Via Risorgimento. It is large and airy and a good place for a tea. I often meet friends there.

But my favourite bar/eatery of all has got to be LAltro Posto, half-way along the Via Sacro Cuore. It is very popular and it is pleasant to sit inside or out. Most importantly for me, they now know me and have my g and t ready before I sit down! The food is always freshly and superbly cooked [and you know they are using fresh ingredients as you often see the staff out buying them in the mornings] and they produce glorious combinations of ice cream. The staff are friendly and the service is good. [They will not forget about you when it is busy, as the staff in many British establishments are wont to do.]

If you are not used to Italy, you may wonder at the lack of public conveniences or “rest rooms”, especially if you are from Britain, where they are everywhere. Well, here you can use the facility in any bar or restaurant - you don’t have to buy anything - but I’m afraid there aren’t many that you would want to rest in! I am old enough to remember when public toilets in France were all unisex and little more than a hole in the ground, and when I first visited here in 1992, they certainly weren’t as bad as that, but they were pretty grotty, with the bagno in the Caffè dell’Arte in Modica Bassa being the only one down there where you could relieve yourself in any degree of comfort. Now they are all much better, clean and equipped for your needs, but very few of them have a seat on the toilet! I kid you not. [Even the loo at Raffaele’s lacks a seat. Yep, pavements and toilet seats are not beloved of Modicans!] I don’t know why this is. Perhaps the average Italian male is just too busy to lift one up? – No, that can’t be right, as not all the facilities are unisex. I must ask Raffaele about the mystery one day. Anyway, you have been warned!

The photos show a complimentary plate of nibbles at L’Altro Posto, me at L’Altro Posto in the autumn and a view of Modican balconies that I enjoy gazing at from Bar Ciacera.

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