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Sicily on Horseback

Cefalù: un angolo di paradiso tra terra e mare

Cefalù: a magical corner between land and sea

Considered one of the most beautiful villages in Sicily and Italy, Cefalù does not need many presentations. In summer it is stormed by a considerable number of tourists, who from all over the world come here to visit it and enjoy the sea air that surrounds this town, but even in winter it manages to maintain its medieval charm, attracting tourists.

In the past the city had several invasions: from the Greeks to the Syracusans, then the Romans, who created the plan of the old town and then the Byzantines, the Arabs and finally the Normans, who in 1063 conquered Cefalù making it a real pearl, rising the majestic cathedral that now dominates the city.

Cefalù takes its name from the shape of the promontory behind it in the shape of a head, which becomes the postcard background of every photo of the city. This is called ‘La Rocca” and, 270 meters above sea level, dominates the scenery of the city and is also one of the best viewpoints not to be missed.

A staircase, known as Salita Saraceni, leads almost to the top and here you can enjoy a breathtaking view, where in addition to the beauty of the landscape you can also admire the remains of an ancient Temple of Diana.

THE OLD TOWN

The Cathedral of Cefalù is one of the main attractions: its origins are mixed between history and legend: the fact is that the king of Sicily Roger II wanted its construction in 1131, some think to show his power to the Pope or to convert the thick presence of Muslims in the island.

Legend says he had it built after saving himself from a violent storm. Whatever its origin is, the cathedral remains one of the most beautiful monumental works of Cefalù. It has a staircase that leads to the terrace that once served as a cemetery, where the deceased were buried under the ground brought directly from Jerusalem.

The outside of the church has two imposing twin towers, while inside there are numerous mosaics with a golden background, among which the Christ Pantocrator stands out. In 2015, it was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The square in front of the cathedral is one of the nerve centers of city life, crowded during the summer months by many tourists engaged in taking souvenir photos, or in a ‘coffee break’ in one of the many bars of the square or simply in a walk that allows to admire the city center.

Staying always in the old town you can visit the medieval public wash house. Until a few decades ago, women used it to do laundry. Going down a short lava stone staircase, you reach a series of tub in which water flows out of the mouths of 22 lions that adorn the wash.

A visit to the Mandralisca Museum, also in the historic center, which includes an art gallery, a collection of Greek and Arabic ceramics, a monetary, a malacological collection among the richest in Europe, and valuable objects already belonged to the Mandralisca family.

The most prestigious work is the “Portrait of Man” by Antonello da Messina.

THE SEAFRONT

If you want to get away from the city center, you can take a walk along the seashores that skirt the most popular beaches of Cefalù. The most famous beach is the Lido di Cefalù, which stands out for its crystal clear waters and its warm golden sand.
Remaining on the coast, you can pass under the last remaining among the four Gates that allowed access within the city walls that surround the city. From here you reach the beach, which in any time of the year hosts tourists and not in walks of pure and simple relaxation.
During the summer to enliven the days, but especially the evenings, there are many clubs and pubs that, open until late at night, they entertain young people of all ages with music, dances and shows.
You can also decide to stay in the rooms/ apartment to rent or, for those who want to enjoy more relaxation and, maybe, treat yourself to some extra pampering, you can choose from the many hotels that houses the city of Cefalù.
Cefalù is also a destination suitable for people who prefer active holidays: you can do several sport activities in the surrounding area such as diving and horseback riding, but you can also take advantage of a bike rental to discover this fantastic territory.

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