If you don't suffocate passing through the industrial horror, Zona industriale, with its polluting oil refineries, you'll reach ancient Megara Hyblaea, near the major port of Prilo along the coast of southeastern Sicily, 16km (10 miles) to the north of Syracuse and reached along the SS114. The Greeks built the city to open onto the Gulf of Augusta, whose shoreline now contains the largest concentration of chemical plants in Europe. Pollution has killed nearly all marine life in the bay, and the air in this area is contaminated.

The Megarians, arriving in ships from Greece, founded Megara Hyblaea in the 8th century B.C., making it one of the oldest of all Greek settlements in Sicily. It was leveled by the tyrant Gelon in 483 B.C. By 340 B.C., Timoleon had founded a second city, but it, too, fell to conquerors, this time the Romans in 214 B.C. Serious excavations of the site began in 1949 and continue to this day.

Outside the old town walls are the remains of a necropolis. After a look, you can walk into the heart of the ruins, exploring foundations of buildings from both the Archaic period (indicated by red iron posts) and the Hellenistic era (green posts). Of particular interest is a Hellenistic house from the 4th century B.C. (the entry is marked by iron steps). Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 2pm and Sunday 9am to 1pm. Admission is free.

To the left of the old agora, or marketplace, are the ruins of Hellenistic baths, with a boiler still discernible in the rubble. Nearby is a small Doric temple in bad shape, which dates from the 4th century B.C. You can also view the Hellenistic west gate with its two square towers.

Although Megara Hyblaea is the finest and most complete model of an Archaic city still extant, all the valuable artifacts dug up here have been transferred to the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi.