Malta

Malta

If you like good seafood, cliffs and cats, then Malta is a place to go.

Lisbon

Lisbon

It's so easy to fall in love with Lisbon. It's cute, friendly and has amazing food, wine and culture. Hard to resist? Impossible.

Provence

Provence

Provence, where Picasso is worth dinner and everything tastes like "more of this, please."

Shenzhen

Shenzhen

Shenzhen has a lot to offer. The real question is - how fast can you learn Chinese? 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hot, spicy and always on the go. Hong Kong is a city of contrasts.

Enchanting Normandy

Enchanting Normandy

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, especially if it takes the form of cider or calvados. 

C is for Champagne

C is for Champagne

Champagne seems to have it all, the taste, the looks, the charm. But of course once cannot just believe all that without trying it out. So we did.

Paris

Paris

If you don't get robbed you'll probably like it.

Berlin

Berlin

Not so poor anymore but still sexy.

Sicily: Siracusa

Sicily: Siracusa

The city of Siracusa (or Syracuse) near Sicily's southeastern tip has been around and thriving for 2700 years, which can only be a good reason to visit. As you might expect, this metropolis of the ancient world - Syracuse was quite possibly the largest city in Europe in the 5th century BCE - offers an agreeable jumble of ancient remains, Sicilian Baroque architecture and art (find the Caravaggio) and contemporary Italian lifestyle. Palermo may be bigger and livelier, but Siracusa gets the mix just right.

Siracusa Cathedral Square

The core of Siracusa is formed by the largely pedestrianised island of Ortigia (linked to the mainland by bridges), where a beautiful Baroque warren of narrow streets and squares surrounds the odd ancient ruin. Highlights are:

  • Cathedral Square (Piazza Duomo): beautiful set-piece urban space surrounded by palaces and churches, not least the Cathedral itself, which nicely blends into the ancient Temple of Athena from which it was converted.
  • Temple of Apollo: impressive ancient ruin that was inhabited by everything from a mosque to a Spanish army barracks, but now mostly by cats.
  • Maniace Castle: medieval fortress on Ortigia's southernmost tip, with impressive views in all directions.

Maniace Castle

Temple of Apollo @ Siracusa

Siracusa seafront

Greek Theatre

Unsurprisingly for a continuously inhabited city, much of Siracusa's ancient cityscape remains buried beneath contemporary residential areas, but you can get an impressive insight by heading out to the Archeological Park in the Northwest of the city: it contains an interesting array of ancient buildings, among which the highlight is the well-preserved Greek Theatre.

It also includes a network of ancient limestone caverns, including the so-called Ear of Dionysius, which was allegedly used by ancient tyrants to spy on their prisoners (almost certainly a figment of the medieval imagination).

Pasta alla Norma

As you can imagine, Siracusa's food includes seafood in all shapes and sizes. We mostly frequented Pizzeria Don Carmelo (not online, Via C. M. Arezzo 9) near the central Piazza Archimede, which does amazing pizza as well as seafood dishes.

Fish soup @ Don Carmelo

A foodie series on Sicily could not be complete without mentioning Pasta alla Norma, and as it is a speciality of Catania (a city we didn't visit) we will drop it in here: this vegetarian pasta dish with tomato, aubergine, salted ricotta cheese and basil is ubiquitous and delicious.

Selfie time in Siracusa

Which other historic seaside cities would you recommend?