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Cefalù, an ancient fishermen village

Cefalù view

Like Gangi and Castelbuono, Cefalù was one of our stops last September, on the occasion of the wedding of our friends Emy and Luigi. Since we were supposed to be at the Church in the afternoon, we set the alarm early and set off early in the morning. We forgot to tell you that the wedding was in Polizzi Generosa and we were staying in Lascari, which is about 10 kilometers from Cefalù. But let’s go back to our tour.

It was a beautiful day, and already in the early hours of the morning, the streets were quite crowded. A lot of people, like the two of us, with backpackers. We reached the historic center and thus began our pleasant walk through the typical streets of this village. And it is thanks to the medieval alleys and the beautiful beach that Cefalù has become one of the most famous tourist destinations in Sicily. Moreover, just like Giardini Naxos, Cefalù is also between sea and land, so we recommend you to include it in your itinerary of the next trip to Sicily😉  

The Rocca

The streets of the historic center are full of restaurants, shops, and bars, so we took the opportunity to have breakfast. With the granita, obviously 🙂 Reinvigorated, we threw ourselves back into the crowd, which at that point had increased. On our right, imposing, we saw the Rocca, or a cliff about 270 meters high that surmounts the city. You know, Sicily is the land of myth, so here we are to tell you about the unfortunate shepherd Dafni. Legend has it that he failed in an attempt to commit suicide and that he was transformed into the Rocca, indeed, by the god Hermes.

At the top of the Rocca are the remains of the Cefalù Castle and the Diana Temple. The two of us, however, did not venture to discover them because the path was decidedly long and demanding, and we did not have much time. We therefore opted for a visit to the astonishing Cathedral.

Cefalù Cathedral

The Cefalù Cathedral
The Cefalù Cathedral, photo by Christophe Pinard on flickr

Undoubtedly the most important monument in the city is the Cathedral, which with its two side towers, takes on the appearance of a fortress. The Towers differ from each other in battlements; there are Ghibelline battlements in one and flame-shaped battlements in the other. They respectively represent the temporal power of the Crown and the spiritual power of the Church. We walked the long staircase, and we finally entered. We were inevitably fascinated by the beauty of the mosaics and, above all, by the Christ Pantocrator. It is one of the five present in Sicily. You can admire the others in the Cathedral of Messina, in the Church of the Martorana and the Palatine Chapel of Palermo, and the Cathedral of Monreale. In 2015, the Cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, as were the Cathedrals of Palermo and Monreale.

Christ Pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator, photo by Freebird on flickr

The terrace overlooking the sea

After we left the silence of the Cathedral, we mixed with the crowd to reach the sea and look out of the Porta Marina. From it, once, you entered the city, and from it, today, you can enjoy a breathtaking view. In front of your eyes, you will have a small beach and a crystal clear sea. Even Giuseppe Tornatore was enchanted by this panorama, so much so that he decided to shoot here one of the most suggestive scenes of his masterpiece Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. The movie scene we are referring to is that of the open-air cinema on the sea. We would have gladly taken a dip, but as you know, we didn’t have time 🙁

Therefore we decided to continue our pleasant walk through the streets of Cefalù, and we arrived at the Medieval Wash House. It can be reached via a stone staircase and is a very cool place since, sheltered from the sun, the waters of the Cefalino river flow into the pools dug into the rock. Local women used to wash their clothes here.

The medieval wash house
The medieval wash house, photo by Christophe Pinard on flickr

As we have already told you, at the Wash House we felt good, but we could not stay there forever… So, after a refreshing pause, we went up the stairs to leave one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and reach our car to continue the journey.

Have you already visited Cefalù?

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