Located in the historic center of Modica close to the Cathedral of San Giorgio, is a gorgeous retreat with mediterranean giarden and is the result of an important restoration project of an ancient building dating back to the half of the 16th century, aiming at the realization of a niche tourist structure.
When I discovered it, the property had been completely abandoned for a long time: hidden behind the high border walls, besides an old rusted iron door, stone ruins invaded by plants had been living close to a secret terraced garden where fg, pomegranate, medlar, mandarin and orange trees spontaneusly were growing together. The protected garden, the so called “orto” typical of sicilian houses, was the landmark of the place and suggested the name of Hortus, by connecting itself, in the meaning of the latin word and for its meditative and contemplative spirit, to the “hortus conclusus” of the medieval monasteries. The year 1554, which we discovered carved on a stone, evoked the time of the spanish domination in Modica, former to that dreadful earthquake which destroyed the Noto Valley in 1693 and indirectly boosted the reconstruction in the baroque style.
The architectural project frst focused on an early step consisting on the preception of the so called “soul of the place”, in order to catch the basic feld lines and the specifc energetic condensations created by the uses and the emotions which had stratifed in that place across the time, and that had slowly turned into a sort of thin grid made of balances and harmonies which necessarily needed to be respected during the restoration works. The main effort was to plan a new use of the property by preserving the traces of time and creating a coherent and balanced dialogue between the ancient and the contemporary age. The restoration was then carried out with high care to the environment and the future wellbeing of the guests, by means of solutions of bioarchitecture and contemporary design, integrated with original features and local materials.