Sion (pronounced see-ohh) is the capital of Valais, an alluring and attractive town of 27,000 with an exceptionally long history: archeological evidence points to the site having been inhabited during Neolithic times. What attracted settlement, no doubt, was the incongruous presence, on the otherwise flat valley floor, of two jutting rocky hills, visible from afar and now adorned with the medieval castles Valère and Tourbillon. They are an odd sight, which matches the common Swiss notion that the locals (named Sédunois, after the town's Latin name Sedunum, meaning Place of Castles) are themselves a bit odd, impenetrably taciturn and clannish. Prejudice aside, Sion enjoys a simply glorious climate, dry, mild and consistently clear; afternoons are bathed in bright sunshine, and on mild summer evenings you could imagine yourself in rural Spain – warm, dry breezes blending the aroma of dusty pine needles with the scraping of thousands of cicadas. Sion's wines are outstanding.