Whether looking for culture, nature or relaxation, you will find something to suit your taste in this lovely town. Sicilian Cefalu is a destination that will captivate you with its history, charm and beauty.
Cefalu is a charming seaside town on the northern coast of Sicily, about 70 kilometres (44 miles) east of Palermo, the island's capital. It is attracting millions annually from all over Sicily, Italy and Europe. You can go on a day trip from Palermo, or spend a whole week in this charming and beautiful town.
Celafu was founded by the ancient Greeks and named Kephaloidion, meaning "head" or "top", because of its distinctive shape. It was then conquered by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Saracens and the Normans. They all left their mark on the town's architecture, art and culture.
The most impressive monument that reflects this heritage is the Cathedral of Cefalu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Norman king Roger II in the 12th century. The cathedral is a stunning example of Sicilian Romanesque style, with a majestic facade, two imposing towers and a splendid interior decorated with Byzantine mosaics, including the famous Christ Pantocrator in the apse. The cathedral also houses a treasure of precious relics, artworks and manuscripts and a beautiful cloister with carved columns.
Another historical attraction is the Rocca di Cefalu. This rocky hill overlooks the town and offers breathtaking sea and coast views. The Rocca was used as a fortress since ancient times and contains the ruins of a Greek temple dedicated to Diana, a medieval castle and a sanctuary dedicated to Gibilmanna, the patron saint of Cefalu. The Rocca can be reached by a steep but rewarding hike from the town centre.
A Taste of Beauty
Cefalu has a lovely historical centre full of narrow streets, quaint shops and cosy cafes. You can stroll Corso Ruggero, Celafus's main street, admire the elegant buildings and churches, or explore the hidden alleys and courtyards. You can also visit the Medieval Wash House. This ancient laundry facility still uses fresh water from a natural spring.
One of the main attractions of Cefalu is its sandy beach, which stretches along the seafront promenade. The beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and enjoying the view of the town and the Rocca.
You can also rent a boat or join a tour to discover the nearby coves and islands, such as the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago famous for its natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Cefalu: A Feast for Your Senses
Seafood is the star of many dishes, such as pasta with sardines, swordfish rolls, tuna carpaccio and grilled octopus. You can also try some typical Sicilian specialities, such as arancini (fried rice balls), caponata (a vegetable stew), panelle (chickpea fritters) and cannoli (crispy pastry tubes filled with ricotta cheese).
Some of the most popular restaurants and trattorias dot the town are Al Pescatore, La Brace and Kentia. You can also find street food stalls and markets to buy fresh produce and local products.
Cefalu: A Destination for All Seasons
Cefalu can be visited all year round. However, if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy lower prices, choose spring or autumn as your travel season. These are also the best times to appreciate the natural beauty of Cefalu and its surroundings and participate in some cultural events and festivals. The Feast of Santissimo Salvatore, which takes place in August, celebrates the patron saint of Cefalu with processions, fireworks and music. Another popular festival is Gibilmanna, which takes place in September and honours the Madonna of Gibilmanna with religious ceremonies and folkloric shows. The Festival of San Giuseppe, which takes place in March, honours Saint Joseph with altars of bread, sweets and flowers.