Visitors to Syracuse may be forgiven for wondering whether they are on holiday in Italy or Greece. This city on the southeastern corner of Sicily's Ionian coastline once rivalled Athens as the most important city in the ancient Greek world. Its Greek heritage can still be found in abundance in both the ruins of buildings older and more splendid than the Parthenon and in the myths and legends centred particularly on its oldest quarter, the island of Ortygia.
Archimedes once strode the streets here and today tourists who stroll around the Neapolis Archaeological Park on the Terminite Hill can still get a feel for Syracuse's golden age of power and prosperity. As well as the Hellenic relics, Syracuse also boasts more than its fair share of Roman ruins and some fine medieval Gothic architecture and art, all treasures to be singled out from among the uninspiring high-rises and motorways that make up the modern city. Parking is a problem in the city, particularly on Ortygia where most of the medieval sights and the best shops are located, and the heat can become unbearable in the height of summer; however, no holiday in Sicily is complete without exploring the antiquities of Syracuse. Most visitors prefer to make day trips to the city from the more comfortable resort areas nearby, where soft white beaches and fine wines can be enjoyed on the shores of the Ionian Sea.