Good Morning Sicily! We awoke from our first night in Campofelice di Rocella and it was already getting hot early in the morning, we were having a spell of high 30’s/low 40’s but luckily our bedroom had air-conditioning or we would have melted. We couldn’t even leave the windows open at night because we were surrounded by orchards and all kinds of creepy crawlies that would try to make their way in despite having screens on some of the windows. Janet would spray the perimeters each night with insecticide and in the morning I’d have to sweep the carcasses away before she got up so she wouldn’t see what was trying to bunk down with us. If she saw the bodies she’d be screaming all the way to the nearest Hilton and that wouldn’t be good for our budget.
Here is a video on our trip to Cefalu, just click on the photo below.
The main attraction in this area is the ancient city of Cefalu, its old town and the fantastic beaches that follow the coastline. Having just arrived in Sicily and looking to wind down after a very busy few weeks in Slovenia, the next three days for us was all about chillaxin on the beaches.
By far our favorite was the sandy beach of Lungomare, 5 kilometers of Sandy beach with a promenade lined by beach clubs and restaurants.
Heading through downtown Cefalu, as you enter the city follow the signs that will lead you onto a narrow road down to the waterfront, turn left at the bottom following the boardwalk. Be careful where you park as to avoid any potential fines. The circular parking lot on the right, surrounded by buildings and a restaurant across the street is for residents only. You would need a resident pass to park here or plan on getting a fine, this is also the spot where you would enter to visit the old town center along the narrow street to the far right. Instead, follow the boardwalk to the left (opposite direction of the old town), you will see parking spots lining both sides of the street marked in blue which indicate a paid spot (see the link here on parking in Italy). Find a spot and park (very busy here on the weekends but not too bad on weekdays), head to the meters which are sparse but on both sides of the road for $1 Euro per hour.
If you plan on spending some time at the beach I would recommend driving a bit down the boardwalk to the last beach club called ‘Lido Beach Club’ and use either the club or the public beach to the left. It is the best, super sandy spot along the waterfront with no rocks and crystal-clear waters with a sandy bottom. This beach would rival any in the Caribbean, its beautiful and the water is so warm.
If you want the ambiance of the old town in the background then you’ll want Cefalu Beach in front the old city on the opposite end. Here is a link to cefalu.it which has a guide and tons of information on the city, its beaches and other attractions.
The other main attraction and ‘must see’ here is the old city center of Cefalu. As mentioned park down by the boardwalk and then walk towards the old town, you’ll see a narrow street that leads into the center and main piazza, you’ll be off to explore.
A highlight in the center is the old Norman Cathedral dating back to the 12th century, it’s exotic looking like something from the set of Game of Thrones.
Inside the church it’s stunning center piece is an elaborate Byzantine mosaic made by masters of the mosaic technique brought from Constantinople by Roger II. It was unfortunately covered and under repair while we were there.
Things that we didn’t do but if you have more time to see and recommended by our host is Castelbuono, a mountain town about 20 kms from Cefalu with a castle once owned by the Ventigmiglia family. The castle apparently is usually closed to the public but it’s a nice spot for a walk amidst the medieval structures and lovely natural scenery.
Another popular area is the Madonie mountain range and park that encompasses a number of small hill towns with their own unique cuisine and micro-culture. It’s a popular area with locals looking for an escape to the mountain and a favorite area for hiking. It even has a ski resort that’s operational for only a few weeks in January and February when it’s the only area on the west side of Sicily that gets more than a few days of snow.
Here is a link to our Cefalu-photo gallery. If you get a chance to go to Cefalu we’d love to hear from you; what you thought of the area, what you did and saw. Next, we are off for a few days based in Milazzo, Sicily.