After a boat ride, a walk through Milazzo, and a train ride, I arrive in Cefalù late in the evening. Walking around through town to find accommodation, I notice the lively streets full of people, and as far as I can tell, the city looks attractive. I make sure to wake up early and start exploring the seaside town. I have calculated that the best time to see the waterfront with the Rocca di Cefalù in the background would be in the late afternoon, so I decide to climb the Rocca first, and explore the eastern part. I walk through cobble-stone streets in an awakening town, make my way to where the trail to the top of the rock starts, only to find out it is closed. I cannot believe the whole rock is off limits, so I go to the information centre, where they tell me that yes, the famous rock is closed for visitors. That means I will not be able to see the fortress, the Temple of Diana, and I will not enjoy the views from the top. Slightly disappointed, I continue walking east, around the cape of Cefalù, hoping to see the rock from the other side. I find a trail running right on the rocky coast, which turns out to be a great way for a different perspective of the Tyrrhenian town.
When I get to the other side of the Rocca, I see that there are no good views from here, and I return using the same coastal trail. There are some early birds out there enjoying the sun and taking a swim in the transparent sea off the rocky limestone coast. I walk next to old buildings, and continue walking until the end: a small pier from where I can see the more crowded, beach part of town. From the pier, I get good views of the medieval part of Cefalù, and I know I will be back here when the sun will set them on fire. I search for a famous ice cream shop, but it is still closed, so I have my first gelato somewhere else. I spend much of the day cruising the streets, trying to avoid the overly touristy parts of town, and instead trying to find the quiet, lovely spots that this town certainly has. The peace is disturbed every now and then by a helicopter, hauling up what looks like construction materials to the Rocca where work is underway. There is an array of restaurants to choose from, and I decide for one with a wooden terrace right on the rocky shore where I have a delicious lunch. After it, I walk along the coast again, I take an inner road, so I can see the remains of the megalithic wall, built by the Greeks for their city Kephaloidion (from which Cefalù derives), using limestone they quarried from the Rocca. The wall is still impressive, but the most interesting fact is that the medieval houses blend in which it.
When I get back to the pier to see how the sun is moving in, I see a huge, dark grey cloud moving in fast, hiding the sun behind it. Too late. I walk to Cefalù Cathedral instead, one of the not-to-miss sights of town instead, hoping the cloud will somehow disappear. The Norman-style 12th century cathedral, recognised as World Heritage by Unesco, proudly stands on Piazza del Duomo. Flanked by sturdy, square towers, the three-arched facade has marvellous mosaics inside, that unfortunately can only be appreciated from a distance. I walk back through the medieval streets, back to the pier, and to my delight, I see that the cloud has indeed moved, over the city and behind the Rocca, and the sun is staging a comeback. I have seen all I wanted to see, so now I have the time to just watch the sun cast its warm rays of late afternoon sunlight through holes in the cover. The clouds behind the town give it a dramatic background. This is also a great place to people watch: groups of teens, the boys trying to impress the girls with somersaults from the quay, parents overly worried, young couples parading by, old men trying to catch fish from the sea. When I finally leave, I cannot constrain myself, and have yet another delicious gelato on my way through town. I cast a last glance at the Rocca, and promise myself I will be back when the helicopters are gone and it is possible to climb it.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cefalù (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cefalù. Read more about this site.