The picture is familiar to us all: a stone girdle of two dozen towers around a gridiron of red des, trim piazzas and a paved promenade that might be a pedestrianised canal but is the main street of the city; below the southern walls waves break on a ragged cliff. Dubrovnik lies serenely self-assertive in a superb setting: hills brightened by yellow patches of broom and groves of oleander, terraces of olives and orange trees, cypress-lined roads with stragghng paths to villas draped in wisteria and bougainvillea. Moored close inshore is the island of lokrum, decked with pines and palms and subtropical shrubs. Eastwards the coast road winds towards the Balkan heartland. In early modern times, many goods shipped to the West reached the city’s merchants along that route. But from that way, too, came invaders who subjected Dubrovmk to a succession of seizes. The latest blockade, imposed by . The Great EarthaL Montenegrins and Serbs a dozen years ago, remains fi-esh in our memories.