Now a sun-bleached provincial capital, Siracusa was once one of the most prestigious cities in the known world. Founded in the 8th century BC by settlers from Corinth, Siracusa gradually grew in prestige to rival Athens and was considered the western capital of Magna Graecia. In the Greek world dictators, often called tyrants, exercised unlimited power over colonies like Siracusa. Although often unpleasant people, they also often patronized poets and artists and competed to bring intellectuals to their courts. Siracusa was home to Archimedes, Plato and Aeschylus during its height of power and prestige. Today's visitors come to marvel at the remains of the ancient structures, reminders of the past glory and rich history of the area. The city is superbly situated at the head of a beautiful bay and enjoys a mild climate. The coastline to the south is renowned for its beauty, clear waters and evocative, mythical scenery. There are romantic abandoned coves and wide, sandy beaches not easily matched anywhere else in Italy.