A Weekend in the Pictures of Cefalu
Posted on May 17, 2012 by sguese
Cinema Paradiso put Cefalu on the map, or perhaps it was the other way around. Just 50 miles east of Palermo, Cefalu enjoys its location on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily. The town has drawn more than film fans for its great patch of sand, narrow medieval streets, small squares and historic sights. Inhabited since the 9th century B.C., Cefalu was the vision of Roger II who constructed the town around his beloved cathedral. Watching over it all is La Rocca, a craggily rock rising 278 meters above it all. If you need further convincing to hire a car and explore Cefalu, here are a few of the town’s main tugs at the heartstrings of travelers.
Like any respectable Sicilian town, Cefalu is proud of its Duomo. The magnificent Normal Cathedral is easily the showpiece in town. It is thought that Roger II ordered the construction of the church when his life was spared in a violent storm. More fortress-like than churchy, Cefalu’s Duomo is a standout mostly for what it contains. Its impressive mosaics in the apse and vault were completed in 1148. They remain the oldest Byzantine-Norman mosaics in Sicily.
Art aficionados will appreciate Cefalu’s contributions, specifically at the Museo Mandralisca. The museum is home to the prized Portrait of An Unknown Man, the 1465 work of Antonello da Messina. The painting is a masterpiece by the great Renaissance artist. Another one of the museum’s finds is a fourth century B.C. vase.
Cefalu is even grand in its staircases. The giant staircase Salita Saraceno leads up three tiers of the city walls to the summit of La Rocca. From this vantage point, you can enjoy wonderful views of the town. The steps begin near Piazza Garibaldi.
Cefalu’s past importance is perhaps best seen at Il Castello. The Norman castle might not look like much today, mostly just loose rocks, but it was once the town’s crowning glory. Il Castello was also used as an Arab citadel at one time.
As you stroll the streets of Cefalu, you will no doubt notice some of the city’s stunning architectural piece. Osteria Magno is one of the town’s great structures, a 14th century mansion. The striking structure is now home to temporary art exhibits. Visitors should also seek out Lavatoio on Via Vittorio Emanuele. The 16th century washhouse was built over a spring. It was well known back in antiquity.
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