Cefalù is a beautiful,ancient sea-side town on the North coast of Sicily.The town is situated at the base of a rocky headland,known as "the rock", and is renowned for its large sandy beach,which is one of the most popular places in the area.
The origins of Cefalù probably go back as far as the 4,th century b.c.,but the town's moment of splendour came while under Norman rule when the town was greatly enlarged and the cathedral desired by king Roger 11,was built.
The Greeks first named Cefalù "Kefaloidion" (meaning head,or headland),which in local dialect became Cifalò,and finally,Cefalù,as we know it today.
Of interest to visit:
The Cathedral,started in 1131 is one of the most important and impressive examples of Norman art and architecture in Sicily.
The elegant 12,th century facade,the grand interior with its 3 aisles,and the gold mosaics which decorate the walls and the central nave,are famous world-wise.
There are several interesting buildings in the cathedral square :
Palazzo Piraino with its impressive late 15,th century front door,:the medieval Palazzo Maria,the Bishop's Palace,with it's connecting cloisters,and the town hall,facing the Cathedral,which was originally a roman building,and later became a monastery in the 15,th century.
On the main street of the medieval town centre,there are several other churches,amoung which of note is the Church of Purgatory (S.Stefano) with its baroque entrance,and spanish facade and bell tower built under the old megalithic walls of the town.
L'Osterio Magno supposedly Roger 11's residence in Cefalù,of which only the tower with its double and triple mullioned windows dates back to Norman times,the rest of the building having been restored at various times through the ages.
The Mandralisca Museum in which one can visit the archaeological and artistic exhibits collected by Baron Enrico Piraino during the 19,th century.One can admire archaelogical finds from the island of Lipari,several 15,th-18,th century paintings of the Sicilian school,the best known being the masterpiece "Portrait of an unknown man" painted by Antonello di Messina in 1470.
Of note,the remains of the ancient fortifications which originally enclosed the town and old fishing harbour.
The "Lavatoio medieovale" the original medieval wash house with a fresh water stream running down from the hills to the sea,passing through various stone basins where the local women took their clothes and scrubbed them on the stone slabs still to be seen inside the stone basins that the stream water runs through before exiting into the sea.
The Rock of Cefalù: The temple of Diana,a megalithic building,is situated on the rock above the town,and is an excellent setting for watching the sunset over the roofs of the town.The rock offers a magnificent view of the town and the coast from Palermo to the West,to the Eolian islands,in the East,on a clear day .
The 16,th century Sanctuary of Gibilmanna is situated in the hills above Cefalù.Rennovated in 1929 ,the church has a magnificent alter piece with the central Madonna sculpted by the Sicilian artist Antonio Gagini,and a small museum "Fra Giammaria da Tusa" which
contains an anthropological area showing one the traditional occupations of the Madonie mountains in past ages,as well as embroidered church vestments.