Holidays in Cefalu give you a microcosm of the best of Italy. Whatever attracts you to Sicily, or even the beautiful country itself, you’ll find it in this coastal town whose character significantly overshadows its modest size. Whether you’re looking for modern metropolitan culture, to explore absorbing historical heritage or simply to settle in for long sun drenched days on luxurious beaches living the true la dolce vita, Cefalu has it all. One of the jewels of the Sicilian coast, Cefalu´ is dramatically sited on a headland, under a great, sheltering, rocky outcrop overlooking the Aeolian Islands. It is from these two features, the headland and head shaped rock, that Cefalu, the name is, thought to have been derived, from the Greek Kephale, or head. In a prime coastal location it was settled by the Sikels, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs before the Normans arrived in the 11th Century and built the dramatic cathedral which gives the town its heart. Cefalu's narrow streets, full of character and lined with traditional Sicilian shops and restaurants, and beautiful central square, invite holiday-mood meanderings. In more recent years it has become a very popular holiday resort, but it has retained a bustling fishing village atmosphere and a rare combination of outstanding monuments and beautiful sandy beaches, some of the best Sicily's has to offer.
There is more than a slightly Arabic, bazar feel about the warren of streets in the centre of town, but it was the Normans who left the strongest mark on Cefalu'. The cathedral, with its striking four-square twin towers and honey coloured stone, is the focal point of the town. This significant piece of Sicilian history was built by Roger I between 1131 and 1240, as an act of thanks after surviving a shipwreck nearby, the cathedral is one of the great Norman masterpieces. The interior is soaring, clean lines and peace, and the eye is drawn immediately to the breath-taking mosaic Christ Pantocrator in the apse, which has been described as the one of the most perfect representations of the Redeemer in all Christian art. The cathedral columns are a prime example of the Sicily's endless cultural intermingling, having been reused from a Roman Temple. Cefalu´ also boasts an interesting museum, the Museo Mandralisca, for those wishing to fully appreciate Sicilian culture and history, which contains a variety of archaeological and artistic artefacts, and part of the Palace of Roger II ¨C the Osteria Magno.