Being someone who travels a lot, I never like to play favourites with my destinations, especially with all the fantastic resorts in Sicily – because it’s virtually impossible to choose. Luckily, the island is compact enough that you usually don’t have to. But I have to admit I do have somewhat of a soft spot for Cefalù, on the beautiful west coast.
Maybe it’s the lingering memories of Cinema Paradiso (one of my favourite films of all time, shot on location here), or perhaps it’s the echoes of the Arab-Norman influences writ large through its magnificent architecture. Then again, it could simply be the rather more modern notion of staying in one of the best resorts in Sicily and lying in the sun on the fabulous beaches. I suspect it’s all the above, and more.
Explore the History…
As in so many Italian towns, the history is evident wherever you look – so the best way to experience it is to simply wander the quaint streets and piazzas and take it all in.
The Duomo di Cefalù, situated in the town’s well-preserved medieval district, is a magnificent feat of Arab-Norman architecture. With its exquisite Byzantine mosaics and soaring Roman columns it’s considered one of the most important cultural landmarks in Sicily.
The Museo Mandralisca includes a small but important collection of art and relics from as far back as the 4th century, including a portrait by Antonello da Messina. Lavatoio is a 16th century Saracen wash house built over an ancient natural spring and reached by a set of elegant stone steps.
While it takes a little effort, it’s well worth the climb to the summit of La Rocca – the imposing rocky crag that looms over the town. It’s around a 45-minute climb up the Salita Saraceni staircase, which starts at Piazza Garibaldi, but the effort is well rewarded. You’ll pass the ruins of the megalithic Tempio di Diana (modernised by the Greeks) and other ancient fortifications, then enjoy stunning views of the town and out over the ocean from the top.
… then Enjoy the Beaches
Spiaggia di Cefalù, around which the town is built, is one of the most popular beaches in Sicily. It’s not hard to understand why, with its picture-perfect crescent shores and warm, inviting waters. It’s just a short walk from the centre of town and although you do need to pay in some sections, there is also an excellent public area where you can hire deck chairs and umbrellas, lie back, and imagine yourself in the bygone days of Cinema Paradiso…
La Salinelle is another beach to consider, around five kilometres from the town centre. It’s usually a lot quieter than Cefalù, so if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, its eight kilometres of sand should do the trick.
Lascari is also just a few kilometres away and its unspoilt coastline offers magical views and blessed tranquillity. (This beach is also popular with naturists.)
Capo Playa is a fantastic place to visit if you want to take in some water sports or just marvel at its 15 kilometres of beach. A combination of sandy and rocky shores, it’s usually fairly quiet (there’s a lot of space to stretch out) and just six kilometres from Cefalù.
The Best Accommodation
This western region is home to some of the best resorts in Sicily, and from personal and very enjoyable experience I can recommend the following, each offering their own unique Sicilian hospitality:
• Hotel Tourist
• Hotel Artemis
• Alberi del Paradiso
• Hotel le Calette
• Masseria Susafa
• Relais Santa Anastasia
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing holidays in luxury resorts in Sicily, as well as holidays in Bermuda, Croatia and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.