The area of Syracuse, in the south-east of Sicily between Catania and Ragusa with its spectacular beaches and two UNESCO world heritage sites, represents the historical and cultural variety that Sicily has to offer. The ancient city of Syracuse itself, founded in 734 b.C., was the capital of Magna Grecia and, over the centuries, was subject to various dominations, from the Romans to the Byzantines and from the Arabs to the Normans. Defined by Cicero as “the most beautiful of all the Greek cities”, the city contains an important archaeological park and the fascinating island of Ortigia, its oldest quarter, that after being destroyed by the earthquake in 1693, was rebuilt in baroque style, as were the 8 wonderful towns in the Val di Noto, including Noto and Palazzolo Acreide. Among the most important monuments are the cathedral, the Fonte Aretusa, the Maniace castle and the Greek theatre. The sea, too, is another jewel in the crown with its unspoiled beaches and bays. If the Plemmirio marine reserve is the most popular with scuba divers, the beaches of Fontane Bianche, Cala Mosche, Vendicari and Portopalo di Capo Passero to the south, are certainly the most delightful. For lovers of nature and hiking there are some wonderful excursions to be made in the Necropolis of Pantalica, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Cavagrande del Cassibile reserve, a deep canyon with natural lakes. The town of Noto, the baroque capital of the area, is well worth a visit as are the vineyards where the prize-winning Nero d’Avola wine is produced. The amphitheatre in Syracuse also holds a cycle of Greek tragedies in May and June.