Modica is situated in the south region of the Iblei Mountains and is traditionally divided in two parts: Modica Alta, the buildings of which are built over the mountain rocks and Modica Bassa, which lies in the valley where once the rivers Ianni Mauro and Pozzo dei Pruni flowed, now invisible due to various floodings. Corso Umberto, which is in Modica Bassa, is the main street and historical site of the city. Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Modica counted 17 bridges that allowed passage for man and cattle between the two sides of the rivers. It was for this reason that Modica was defined in the first, 1934 edition of the Enciclopedia Treccani as one of the most peculiar cities of Italy after Venice.
The monuments of Modica mainly present a style that has been defined as Late-Baroque. However, in the case of Modica, a definition of South-Eastern Sicilian Baroque is more apt. This style flourished after the disastrous earthquake of 1693. There are little testimonies of the city before this earthquake. One is the gothic portal at the chiesa del Carmine. The writer and poet from Verona Lionello Fiumi described Modica in the 1960s in a newspaper with these words: “Modica is unsuspectingly beautiful… It creates a bizarre, unique effect, as if of something seen in the deforming prism of a dream, as of an immense and imaginary building out of a fairy-tale which were made of various houses instead of different floors. Above these buildings that stand one on top of another, dart belfries upon belfries.”