Sunny Cefalú is the consummate beach town, with its easy going pace, so different from the hustle and bustle of Palermo. The rugged and lovely seaside is a Sicilian natural treasure. While a day of sunbathing and a dip in the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean are very inviting Cefalú promises plenty to see and do away from the beach as well.
Cefalú is located on the northern shore of Sicily, in the Province of Palermo. This little burg of about 14,000 residents is a favorite destination of tourists from Sicily and all over the world. The stunning coastline, fantastic food, historical sites, unique shops and small town charm make a visit to Cefalú a must for all who flock to splendid Sicily.
Cathedral of Cefalú
The stunning double-towered Duomo is a constant presence from nearly all vantage points in historic Cefalú. The facade alone is quite beautiful, with its representation of Arab and Byzantine architectural influences and Norman construction in the area. The construction materials on the exterior include both stucco and brick and mortar. attest to the unique character of the town itself and the many cultural influences in Cefalú.
The interior of the Duomo is equally as interesting. Granite and marble were used throughout the interior and Byzantine mosaics adorn the cathedral. A tiled mosaic of The Christ Pantocrator above the altar is of particular note in the Duomo di Cefalú. It is a stunning display of Byzantine art and a source of pride among Sicilians.
The Duomo was erected in the 12th century as the fulfillment of a promise by King Roger II of Sicily. As the story goes, Roger was sailing around Sicily when the seas became quite rough. The King made his promise to honor his maker should safe harbor be found. It was-in Cefalú. Roger went on to build an apse with a sarcophagi for the King and his wife, which was relocated in the 13th century, as the cathedral was expanded.
Tempio di Diana
For those who enjoy a hike the Tempio di Diana, a Roman temple built to honor the goddess Diana, provides quite the vista. This romantic spot, high above the town, is flanked by an intact wall from the structure, which dates back to the 4th century B.C. It is quite a climb so wear your sturdy-but-comfortable shoes and take along some water.
For those who want a truly remarkable view of all that is Cefalú, continue climbing the craggy mountaintop to the ruins of the Norman castle which once stood sentry over the town. The castle dates back to 1061 and is one of the historic sites of renown in Cefalú.
Along your climb you will take note of the ruins of fortifications, both Arab and medieval. In ancient times the locals would flee attack by retreating here. Once you reach the top, you will be treated to a view like no other, with Palermo to the west and Capo d’Orlando to the east.
After a busy morning of sightseeing take a pause and enjoy a true feast for the eyes. Cefalu’s beach is truly a gorgeous and peaceful respite. Sapphire blue water gently nudging the sand and the laughter of beachgoers having the time of their lives makes for the ideal place to catch your breath before you continue your exploration of Cefalú.
Grab a makeshift picnic or a simple refreshment, stroll the promenade and claim a bench. From your vantage point you can watch the beachgoers frolic, or families perched on the rocky outcroppings and you may even see a cliff-diver or two.
If the people of Cefalu take pride in their Duomo, it’s likely a close second to how they feel about their food. Your dining experience is sure to be a memorable one. There’s no end to the luscious seafood and traditional Sicilian fare served up locally, often with an outstanding view of the coast. Enjoy a glass of local wine, both red, slightly chilled, and white, very chilled
For those who prefer a quick nosh, there is no end to the focacceria, pizzeria, pastry shops and fried seafood. Perfect for a day at the beach.
No visit to Cefalu is complete without a shopping spree. This small town is known as a shopper’s paradise. Local artisan handiwork, linens, pottery and the like are readily available at excellent prices. Clothing shops offer beachwear, as you would expect, and a wonderful selection of everyday wear. There are also upscale shops with a wide selection of dressier and one-of-a-kind items.
It’s often said that Sicily is vastly different from the rest of Italy, and you will find that to be fairly true. Sicily embraces many different cultures at one time, taking the best of each and making that element its own. In Cefalu you will find all the things that make Sicily so delightful in one place. The stunning natural beauty, the open and friendly people, luscious food and a rich history that’s still being uncovered.