In 1777, Jakob Philipp Hackert toured Sicily in the company of the collector Richard Payne Knight. Syracuse, near the island's northeast tip, was one of the last stops on their trip, and its distinctive stone caves, or latomie, were of great interest to them. These ancient quarries, burrowed by Greek colonists, have long since been reclaimed by nature. As Knight described them in his diary of the voyage: "These are immense quarries, sunk to a prodigious depth and excavated in some places to immeasurable vaults, supported by stone pillars which have been left in position. Various of these pillars having yielded, vast masses have collapsed and now afford, with their covering of bushes and vegetation, the wildest and loveliest sight imaginable."