There are some places that each of us calls home even if they are miles away. For me, home is in Palermo but also in Milan and in Paris. And then, there’s even another town that means a lot to me, I’m talking about Cefalù.
This city is located in the province of Palermo and, despite its small size, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sicily. Every year, it attracts several tourists from all over the world, me included. I don’t remember the first time I was in Cefalù, I was just a baby but year after year that place has become more and more familiar. I’m used to spend there my summer holidays and honestly, I cannot imagine any other sea, any other beach. It’s home.
Why should you visit this town? Because if you seek a nice spot to enjoy the period from March to October and look even for a bunch of intense emotions and unforgettable memories, you cannot avoid stopping there.
Are you ready to book your trip? Let’s go together with Sicilian Secrets.
Where art meets history
Probably you will arrive in Cefalù after a stop in Palermo and at that point it’s almost sure that the first spot you want to visit is the Cathedral. This church belongs to the Arab-Norman circuit together with the Cathedral of Palermo and Monreale and is characterized by two towers and a round-headed Norman portal. Once you get in, the figure of the Pantocrator gracing the apse will astonish you. These mosaics are a remarkable example of Byzantine art.
What else? Especially in summer, I strongly suggest you sitting outside on the stairs, having a look at the square (Piazza del Duomo) and eating a delicious ice-cream to cool down!
The only one
Technically speaking, Museo Mandralisca is the only museum in Cefalù. It has been founded by the Baron Enrico Pirajno that in his life collected many art objects, books, coins, scientific instruments and archeological finds. Nowadays, each of us has the opportunity to discover this incredible heritage and learn more about the town and Sicily in general. The centerpiece of the museum is Portrait of an unknown sailor by Antonello da Messina, an Italian painter from Messina (Sicily) active during the Italian Renaissance. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by this masterpiece: who was the man in the painting? What did he do in his life? Where was he from? He has a smirk that is as captivating as the Mona Lisa’s. I hope that you will feel in the same way, at least for five minutes!
Let’s go for a (long) walk
Warning: do you like hiking? If your answer is ‘YES’, it’s perfect! But bear in mind that it’ll be a long walk toward the so-called Temple of Diana. I’m talking about a megalithic monument from the 4th century B.C. located on the summit of the rock (in Italian, Rocca). In the past it had a pagan sacral function, but during the Byzantine age, it was rebuilt and turned into a Christian church. This area is very peculiar, in fact not so many people know that Cefalù was the first place in Italy where Aleister Crowley, an English occultist, ceremonial magician and founder of the religion of Thelema, established in 1920, the Abbey of Thelema, a religious commune where he lived with various followers. For several years, the Temple of Diana has been used for satanic rituals…that’s scary!
In any case, don’t worry! Go there in the early morning and enjoy the view: it’s gorgeous! Are you romantic? The Temple of Diana provides a quiet and romantic getaway for young lovers.
(Almost) hidden corners
Cefalù surprises those who go there for the first time and still surprises even me! Each summer, I spend a day just wandering around, I check out the little alleys and love discovering some hidden corners that I have never seen before. If you are a tourist, do it and don’t worry: you won’t get lost!
For sure, you cannot miss three spots:
Bastione Capo Marchiafava: the bastion is shaped like a polygon with an extremity pointing to the sea. From this place you can see the lighthouse, the cliff and coast of Cefalù. Sometimes, you can barely glimpse even a couple of Aeolian islands. If you want to enjoy the sunset, go there. Sit on the wall and breathe. Let the wind be your friend and relax.
The Medieval washhouse: it’s an historical landmark, in this area women used to wash and rinse their family’s clothing during ancient times many centuries ago. Touch the water…but don’t drink it! It’s a refreshing spot, close your eyes for a few seconds and try to go back in time. The Lavatoio Medievale is a picturesque place to be.
The little & old port: no more than fishing boats, fishermen, a bunch of people who have a walk and an astonishing view. Yes, I said astonishing view. Giuseppe Tornatore chose this spot to film some scenes of “Cinema Paradiso”. Go there in the evening, the coast and the sparkling lights will literally amaze you.
Sea. Sun. Beach.
Last but not least: Cefalù and the sea. The blue waves, the golden sand. What should I say more? If you gaze at this town, you will easily understand that it looks like a nice postcard. It’s like one of those pictures that you can only dream. But once you get there, everything becomes real. Book a table for dinner, choose a restaurant right in front of the sea. Enjoy the warm temperature, say goodbye to the sun that plunges into the sea and feel the magical atmosphere of this beautiful place on your skin.