Summer 2018, after our visit to Palermo we rented a car and drove to our second destination for this short vacation on Sicily, Cefalù.
Places we visited in Cefalù:
Duomo di Cefalu
The Cathedral of Cefalù or Duomo di Cefalù is a Roman Catholic basilica.
The cathedral was erected in 1131 in the Norman architectural style, the island of Sicily having been conquered by the Normans in 1091. According to tradition, the building was erected after a vow made to the Holy Saviour by the King of Sicily, Roger II, after he escaped from a storm to land on the city’s beach. The building has a fortress-like character and, seen from a distance, it dominates the skyline of the surrounding medieval town. It made a powerful statement of the Norman presence.
The cathedral has a cloister that can be entered from within the church. The arcade has pointed arches, each of which rests on slender, paired columns. The form is not different from that of Spanish and some French cloisters; the composite capitals of the coupled columns are Norman and other more generically Romanesque in their motifs. This cloister is the model for the successive Norman cloisters of Sicily, in particular that of the Monreale.
Bastione di Capo Marchiafava
From the Bastione di Capo Marchiafava you get some beautiful panoramic views over the Mediterranean Sea and Cefalu, and the locals some sheltered spots to sit and enjoy the sunset!
Cefalù Porto Vecchio
Piazza Marina 3, Cefalù
Kalura Tree House
Places to eat or for drinks in Cefalù:
La Fisheria Liska
Via Carlo Ortolani di Bordonaro 40, Cefalù
The most amazing fish food in Cefalù. Fresh fish prepared in a peculiar way, but in respect of Sicilian culinary tradition. Great both as aperitiv bar or restaurant.
Da sasà ristorante pizzeria
Via Giudecca 58, Cefalù
Santa Lucia Gelateria
Via Porpora 1, Cefalu.
The best icecream in the old city!
Corner Of Sweetness Sas
Via Pietro Novelli 2, Cefalù.
A bit out of the old city, but worth the extra walk, this is best place in Cefalu to get an icecream!
Places to shop for food:
Gourmet Decò Cefalù
Via Giuseppe Vazzana 3, Cefalù
Places we visited outside Cefalù:
Castel di Tusa
Named after the castle that now lies in ruins 600m above it, this small coastal resort about 25km east of Cefalù is best known for the controversial Fiumara d’Arte, an open-air sculpture park featuring a collection of contemporary artworks scattered along the fiumara (riverbed) of the Tusa River. The most recent, and most impressive, installation is the Piramide 38° Parallelo, a gleaming rust-coloured steel pyramid high on a hilltop above the sea, now a regular gathering point for solstice celebrations.
Museo Albergo Atelier Sul Mare
Via Cesare Battisti 4, Castel di Tusa
Art Hotel Atelier sul Mare is a hotel-museum of contemporary art unique in the world, just few meters from a wonderful sea, in Castel di Tusa (ME), nearby Cefalù.
The hotel is situated in a territory full of culture and popular traditions. Inserted in a rare beauty sight, in a wonderful frame of an integral and magnetic nature, between a crystalline sea and the Nebrodi mounts, Atelier sul Mare is an ideal hotel for who wants to spend unforgettable vacations. A place of art, romantic and relaxant, for who wishes to regenerate spirituality in a magical and exclusive atmosphere.
Monumento per un Poeta Morto (1989)
The sculpture is also known as the “Window on the sea”, for its strong visual impact. Realized by Tano Festa and dedicated to the brother poet, the “Monument” is a hymn to the color and infancy, recurrent topics in the works of the artist. – the frame, high 18 meters, realized in cement (reinforced concrete) and ferrous armor, is the triumph of the blue color, that is not the one we usually see on the painter’s palette, but the blue of the soul, when a poet and sculptor like Tano Festa, that was adult and child at the same time, decides to show himself on the infinite. This enormous window that frames the sea, expresses the limited sense of the possibility to be stopped with the thought on the horizon. But, also, it’s a tension to the serenity, searched from the artist, broken from the black monolith, ended sense of our existence, that runs through the joyful window adorned with the typical little clouds recurrent in the artist artworks, interfering with the harmony of the sculpture.
Unfortunately during our visit to this place, it was raining like from hell. We were totally unprepared and could not leave the car. We managed just to reach a basic restaurant for lunch.
Nicosia is a village and comune of the province of Enna in Sicily, southern Italy. Nicosia, along with Troina are the northernmost towns in the province of Enna. The vicinity traditionally contained are salt mines and arable lands.
Ristorante La Torretta
ctr. Torretta, Nicosia
Castelbuono is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Palermo, Sicily.
It is known for its castle from which its name derives, and around which the city developed in the 14th century.
From Cefalu it takes about 25 minutes by car or 40 minutes by bus to get to Castelbuono.
Castelbuono Ventimiglia Castle
The construction of the Castle mixes Arab-Norman features with others typical of the castles built during the Hohenstaufen rule of southern Italy: the cube shape recalls Arabic architecture; the square towers, although incorporated into those of the façade, reflect Norman architectural style, as also the battlements; and the round tower recalls aspects of Frederick II’s times architecture.
The structure is on three floors, the first floor for the servants, with the essential services, the second for the nobility, with the sumptuous Cappella Palatina, and the third for the court and for guests.
The Cappella Palatina (“Palace Chapel”) was built in 1683 by the brothers Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta, with a great profusion of precious marble, stuccowork, putti, and friezes that commemorate the most resplendent moments in the history of the House of Ventimiglia. Here is kept the holy relic of the skull of Saint Anne, in an urn that acts as the pedestal to the sculpted bust of Castelbuono’s patron saint.
There are also the traditional underground dungeons and a tunnel that leads to the Church of San Francesco.
Looking for an expert of food and wine, and most of all, an expert of tradition, who took upon himself the responsibility of preserving that knowledge that changed the humanity and the world? Peppe Carollo of the restaurant Nangalarruni in Castelbuono, to quote Ermanno Olmi, is just that, but also a fine connoisseur of wines and a passionate mushroom collector.
In the heart of the characteristic historical centre of Castelbuono, along the main street of the city that once belonged to the Ventimiglia family, nested in a little alley is Peppe Carollo’s restaurant. At “Nangalarruni” (the name comes from the famous woodwind instrument featured in many Sicilian folk songs) you can try the inland Sicilian cuisine – apart from meats and the cheeses, the dishes are mostly made of seasonal vegetables and mushrooms.
A cuisine associated with seasonal products and dishes with an antique flavour, some of which have been revisited in a modern key with a touch of creativity, like the fillet in a manna crust with almonds and pistachios, and many other products with unique and authentic flavours. Among the antipasti, you will find the Caponata della nonna with aubergines, the tortino di panecotto (a savoury pie), a selection of typical meats and cheeses of the Madonie mountains, black pig lonzino smoked with tobacco, roast beef marinated with citrus fruits, mushroom and ricotta gratin, greens with smoked Cacciocavallo, mushroom and potato pie, cream of ricotta and truffle. As your first course (primi), you can try dishes like mushroom soup, organic legumes and greens, cheese, pepper and wild mushroom spaghetti, fusilli with pork mince, garden vegetables and basil ricotta, pasta with tenerumi greens, potatoes, zucchini and salted ricotta, and a fondue with smoked caciotta and truffle. The second course (secondi) could be served at a royal dinner! Choose from a pork fillet in a crust of manna or baked in foil with a sauce of mushrooms and vegetables, served with a side of rosemary roasted potatoes, tagliata steak with smoked salt, the hamburger (beef, chicory, pecorino San Nicola, crispy onion and a cheese sauce), roasted pork in citrus sauce, pork fillet stuffed with Ragusano cheese, swiss chard, cheese fondue with black bee honey, rabbit stewed with Madonie spices and truffle. A sumptuous lunch that can only be concluded with a delicious dessert: the typical Castelbuono Testa di Turco or the cassata with ricotta ice cream.
This destination is a must not only for gourmets but also for wine enthusiasts, with a wine cellar that counts an assortment of over 600 labels. In summer, you can also eat outdoors. There is also an option of a tasting menu.
Manifesta 12 Collateral Events
The exhibition represents the collaboration between Kunst Meran Merano Arte and Civic Museum of Castelbuono, investigating the social and artistic conditions in Sicily and South Tyrol, two extreme poles of Italy, through a group of artists, three from each region.
Santuario di Gibilmanna
Contrada Valle Grande, Frazione di Gibilmanna
The Sanctuary of Gibilmanna is a Christian shrine in the province of Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy. It is located in Gibilmanna, a frazione of the comune of Cefalù on a slope of the Pizzo Sant’Angelo, a peak in the Madonie chain, at an altitude of some 800 m.
According to tradition, Gibilmanna would be one of the six Benedictine monasteries commissioned by Gregory the Great (pope from 590) at his own expenses before his election. On the site existed a church dedicated to St Michael Archangel.
The convent’s edifices were perhaps in ruins in the 9th century, when the Arabs conquered the area (858), while the small church would house several hermitages. After the Norman conquest of Sicily, a program of numerous Christian constructions was launched, perhaps including that of Gibilmanna. The church, again mentioned in 1178, was a priorate in 1228, and thus no more a Benedictine possession.
In 1535, father Sebastiano Majo da Gratteri, one of the first follower of the Capuchine reformation, established himself at Gibilmann. Next to the old Benedictine chapel a first convent was built. In the early 17th century it was decided to build a new church in place of the Benedictine chapel: finished in 1623, it was opened in 1625, including a sacristy and an entrance staircase. The façade was preceded by a portico. The new church also received, from the old church, an image of Madonna with Child, a Byzantine-style fresco, a statue of the Virgin and a Crucifix (also in Byzantine-style). For the high altar a new painting was commissioned, depicting the Assumption. The old chapel was demolished. In the same centuries, the convent was further enlarged and enriched. Artworks added include statues of St. ohn the Baptist and St. Helena next to the altar of the Madonna Chapel.
After the portico preceding the church crumbled down, the façade was remade in Neo-Gothic style in 1907.
Places to shop:
Sicilia Outlet Village
Contrada Mandre Bianche in Agira
Sicilia Outlet Village is located in the heart of Sicily, amongst art, archeological sites and extraordinary cities. The Village offers the opportunity to shop at affordable prices in over 140 stores featuring some of the most important and best-known fashion brands. It is conveniently positioned at the Dittaino – Outlet exit on the Autostrada A19 Palermo – Catania highway.
Places to stay:
AirBnB @ Lorenzo’s Contrada Kalura.
We stayed just outside Cefalù in an apartment at an Villa with swimming pool overlooking the sea.
This place is really a great gen just outside Cefalù. We felt very welcome by Lorenzo and his wife and they helped out with every question that we had. The appartment is situated next to the host in a smaller recidency with access through a gate. The pool area is shared with only two other guests. Parking is just outside the appartment. The garden is beautifully kept and the outdoor spaces well equipped with furniture. The appartment is spacious, well equipped and very tidy. There are three air conditioners if the temperatures would rise but the shutters keep the sun out and do a lot of work keeping the appartment cool. You can easily reach Cefalù by car but parking is sparse. In the evenings we sometimes took the 25 min walk to the old town. That was an easy walk once you know the route. We highly recommed this place and would love to come back. Thank you for your hospitality!
Contrada Kalura, despite being very close to the city of Cefalù, offers absolute tranquility and spectacular views from sunrise to sunset. In the evening, by turning off the lights on the terrace, you can admire the starry sky. The climate, moreover, is influenced by the sea breeze that breaks the heat even on the hottest days.
For our week outside Palermo we had rented a car in Palermo. It was not so easy to find a company that was open on sunday in the city. After our week, we could leave the car at the airport in Palermo.
Guides on Cefalu