Cefalù

Sicily of the past

The beautiful medieval village of Cefalù, located in the northern coast of Sicily in the Province of Palermo, is another of those places that must be seen in order to discover the old and unchanged Sicily. Built on a promontory dominated by a cliff, the town has preserved its ancient appearance.

There are traces of prehistoric times, especially for the two caves located on the tip of which the city was built, over a pre-Hellenic settlement for the megalithic walls which remain solid megalithic ruins along the cliffs of the Giudecca (Postierla) and at the ancient Porta Terra (today Piazza Garibaldi), in addition to the temple of Diana as a sanctuary built on a megalithic building with slabs of stone. The fortress that overlooks the city, that the Phoenicians called “promontory of Hercules”, is a limestone rock 270 meters high.

It was taken by Syracuse in 307 BC and by the Romans in 254 BC who provided for the creation of roads that were connected to the main road that followed all the perimeter of the walls. During the Byzantine rule, the center was displaced from the plains to the fortress that today remain the crenellated walls, churches, barracks, water tanks and furnaces. In spite of this, they did not give up entirely to the old town as highlights the finding of a building of Christian worship adorned with a mosaic floor of the sixth century. It was ruled by the Arabs in 858 under the name of “Gafludi” integrating in the emirate of Palermo and taken by the Normans of Roger I in 1063 and, in 1131, Roger II, took possession of the old village on the coast preserving the urban structure as evidenced the current monuments such as the Church of St. George and the wash in Via Vittorio Emanuele, the Cloister of the Cathedral, the Palazzo Maria in Piazza Duomo and the Great Osterio (palace) located in Corso Ruggero.

The legend evokes that the Cathedral whose construction dates back to 1131, would have been built on vow made to the Holy Saviour by Roger II (Ruggero the Norman, the son and successor of Roger I of Sicily of Altavilla’s dynasty, king of Sicily, Apulia and Calabria from 1130 to 1154), escaped unhurt from a storm and landed on the beaches of Cefalu.

Afterwards, and more specifically between the mid-thirteenth century and 1451, it was ruled by different feudal vassals holders becoming as the last of the bishop’s property. In 1752, several European countries began to establish their consulates and, in January 1861, after the landing of Garibaldi, the town was alleged to the Kingdom of Italy.

Decorations and good food in Cefalù

The historic center is adorned with architectural decorations and many churches that emphasize the importance of a bishopric. The village is surrounded by typical houses facing the sea and a beautiful beach of fine sand.

The queen of the sea with its fish dishes, although the highlight dish is pasta “in taianu” topped with meat sauce, meat and fried eggplant in addition to being the dish of excellence for the local feast of the Holy Salvatore.