Cefalù is a really beautiful town by the sea, beloved destination by tourists from all over the world, but which somehow managed to keep its essence unchanged.
The history of Cefalù mirrors that of the whole Sicily: a fishing town dominated over time by different populations and in particular by the Arabs and Normans who have left a clear mark on it.
You can start visiting this village by walking along its main street characterised by small shops, lively squares and very narrow alleys, until you reach the majestic Piazza Duomo, where the Cathedral dominates; it was founded by King Ruggero II of Altavilla in 1131 and it’s a clear example of the mixture of cultures that have alternated in the city.
Arab, Norman and Byzantine cultures merged, giving rise to a monument of incredible beauty and importance, so that in 2015 it was included in the Arab-Norman itinerary sponsored by UNESCO.
The Cathedral is a work that has remained unfinished, as evidenced by its fairly bare interiors, but which bring out the figure of Christ Pantocrator above the apse, which has made it known throughout the world.
Next to the Cathedral there’s the medieval cloister, the oldest in Sicily, whose peculiarity is represented by the capitals, all different from each other and finely decorated with biblical or historical episodes.
In front of the Cathedral stands the Town Hall and, right next to it, in Via Mandralisca, you can reach the Mandralisca Museum which houses the rich collection of Baron Enrico Piraino di Mandralisca made of more than 6000 volumes, stamps, shells, paintings and archaeologists' finds.
The Osterio Magno is an ancient palace in the very center of Cefalù, built by the Norman King Ruggero II in the twelfth century, it was enlarged and fortified by the powerful Ventimiglia family who passed it down from generation to generation until 1602. It has a large Roman cistern of considerable historical and structural importance, noteworthy are also the windows overlook the hall of the building.
Continuing along the main street you’ll reach the Bastione di Capo Marchiafava, a bulwark of defense that today is one of the most fascinating places of Cefalù, from which to enjoy the immense beauty of the sea. Then arrive at Porta Pescara, the only surviving gate among the four of the city, and peek the unexpected glimpse of the old port framed by a gothic arch. The advice is to reach the pier at sunset, when it turns into a real postcard thanks to the golden sand, the colored facades of the houses and the boats of the fishermen.
Continuing walking towards the seafront you will come across the medieval wash house: a lava stone staircase leads to a floor smoothed by time and to a series of basins equipped with the classic supports that were used to rub the clothes. According to legend, these pools, filled by the waters of the Cefalino river, were fed by the tears of a nymph desperate for losing her beloved.
Just before reaching the seafront, there is the Salvatore Cicero Theater, it doesn’t strike you externally but, once inside, you will be surprised by its beauty, it is in fact a small, richly decorated Italian theater that dates back to 1814.
And here we are at the lungomare (seafront): clear water and a wide golden beach that from sunset becomes one of the destinations of Cefalù's nightlife, with its many bars, restaurants and discos open until late at night.
Finally, for those who visit this town, a destination that can’t be missed is the Rocca, which silently dominates the town. If you have comfortable shoes and are not in the hottest hours of the day, climbing to the top is really worth it. A path immersed in a pine forest leads you along the way, whose difficulty is not so much linked to the length, but to the difference in height of 240 meters and to the characteristics of the road that climbs upwards between barracks, fortification walls, cisterns water, rocky outcrops, remains of the thirteenth-century castle and a luxuriant Mediterranean scrub. The view from the crenellated walls, together with the visit of the most famous monument on the cliff, the Temple of Diana, a prehistoric sanctuary dating back to the 9th century BC, undoubtedly make the visit of the Rocca one of the most beautiful experiences to do in Cefalù.
WHERE TO EAT
Locanda del Marinaio
Via Porpora, 5 - 90015 Cefalù (Pa)
+39 0921 423295
The Locanda del Marinaio is one of the most renowned restaurants in the marvellous city of Cefalù, which offers delicious fish specialities, a symbol of the long Sicilian culinary tradition, reinterpreted by the chef through the canons of modern cuisine and with a pinch of innovation. The fish specialties proposed go perfectly with the selection of local and national wines from the cellar. The Locanda del Marinaio will win you over thanks to the goodness and freshness of the fish dishes on offer and the friendliness of the staff, who will make you feel right at home.