Cefalu is a popular town, situated on the northern coast of Sicily. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy and is certainly one of Sicily's top resorts.
Cefalu sits around a bay and a harbour that is still a busy fishing port today with tuna fishing being one of the key industries. The town spreads out around the bay and below the large rock which towers up behind the town and is known as La Rocca.
The harbour is very pretty and lively and ferries set out from here each day to the Aeolian Islands.
Next to the harbour is a nice beach which proves a big draw with the tourists who visit Cefalu. The beach is sandy though like many beaches in Italy some parts are for use only if you hire a sunbed.
The 12th century cathedral is undoubtedly the highlight within the town. The exterior is decorated but not overly ornate and is very nicely proportioned, with Norman style towers either side of the entrance and a recurring 'arched windows' theme.
The exterior of Cefalu cathedral gives little clue to the splendour of the interior, above all for the many decorative mosaics that can be seen - the highlight of these is called 'Christ Pantokrator' and features an amazing level of detail and colour. The mosaics were installed by experts brought in specially from Constantinople during the middle of the 12th century.
Within the town itself there is the obligatory sprinkling of Sicilian churches to discover, and a few fine palaces - best among these are the 13th century Palazzo Maria, the 15th century Palazzo Atenasio Martino, and the 16th century Palazzo Piraino. You will come across many small but fascinating architectural details as you explore.
The Osterio Magno is one of the key buildings to see and is the remains of a 13th century palace. It is thought to have belonged to King Roger II.
The Museo Mandralisca has a good archaeological section with finds from the area around Cefalu and from the Aeolian Islands. Amongst its displays are a beautiful cup decorated with images of a tuna cutter, "Tagliatore di tonno", and a beautiful portrait by Antonello da Messina.
The most readily identifiable feature in Cefalu is a natural one - the very large rock known as La Rocca, and once home to the Greek Temple of Diana, and to the original town that stood here, parts of which can still be seen. The 'new' town is largely spread around the base of La Rocca. It is a half hour climb to get to the Temple of Diana but worth it for the temple and the views.
Cefalu is one of seven beautiful Sicily villages (i.e. listed as 'most beautiful villages of Italy)'
Places to visit nearby
Close to Cefalu is the hillside Sanctuary of Gibilmanna, a pilgrim destination. The church is somewhat reminiscent of the cathedral of Cefalu in style and inside has a beautiful Baroque altar.
Termini-Imerese is to the west along the coast and has some Greek and Roman ruins to explore. Inland the village of Geraci-Siculo offers some splendid views over the hills of the Parco della Madonie regional park.