Modica's chocolate is one of the most famous products of the Ragusa area. It is still made the same way the ancient Aztecs made chocolate in Mexico and its tradition dates back to the 16th century. The technique was brought over by the Spaniards who in turn learned about it in what is now Mexico.
Modica, along with all of southern Italy, was under Spanish rule at the time when the Spanish discovered the New World and, consequently, introduced to Europe products they found in the Americas, like sweet and chili peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and, of course, chocolate.
In Modica the original chocolate making technique from the 16th century has been maintained much truer to original intents so you get chocolate that is made straight from the cacao beans, with no added cocoa butter or soy lecithin.
One step of the old traditional process required working the cocoa on the Mexican metate, a lava stone slab with a stone rolling pin, to grind roasted cocoa beans on a fire that does not make the cocoa mass go over 40 degrees Celsius. This means that when sugar is added it gets mixed in but does not melt, thus giving the grainy texture this chocolate is famous for.
The two traditional flavors of Modica chocolate are vanilla and cinnamon, as well as hot chilli pepper (peperoncino). Today you can find all sorts of flavors, including nutmeg, white pepper, citrus, cardamom, sea salt, etc.
The best way to have it is melted in a hot creamy chocolate with milk or water, traditionally it was also eaten with a piece of bread or used in cooking to prepare savory dishes.
Among the various families and shops producing the Cioccolato Modicano, the Bonajuto family is the most famous internationally. Their shop has been in the same spot right in the heart of Modica since 1880, creating the chocolate delicacies with which generations of Modica grew up with and, currently, experimenting with new interesting flavors.