The church was basically completed between 1131-48, by order of Roger II, making it the the oldest Norman Romanesque church on Sicily. It has 2 massive West end towers (with 4 levels of windows and tent-shaped roofing). The facade has interlacing arches and other material probably copied from Monreale since this was installed in1240. The connecting narthex(porch) was added in 1471. Under the porch is an ancient portal. Although theire are elemnts derived from Monreale, it is clear that this church was the model for it and spurred Wm II to outdo his forbear. The long basilican nave has large Roman columns, carved capitals and ogival arches plus 4 more taller and wider columns at the crossing. (Where did Roger find these columns?). There is an outside view of the apse possible but we missed it.
Cefalu was a beautiful surprise
"Beautiful small town on the sea"
We had no idea what to expect of Cefalu and had not intended to stay here. After only spending a little time, we decided it was worth spending the night. We ended up spending 2 and wished we had had more time. The core of the old town is small and easy to manage with lovely architecture and a sprinkling of tourist sights. But the location on the sea and right off many roads leading elsewhere, it made it a great future base location. You could spend some time just lazing about and some time going out to see other towns and attractions.
It was early evening when we headed up a trail leading up the hill called "La Rocca" where there are the remains of a fortress and a Temple of Diana. It was a scenic trail with lovely views of the ocean and town. The ruins of the temple were a little disappointing, but it was worth the hike and good to get some exercise. I got a little nervous, however, when the moon started to come out and it began to get dark. We had been climbing strenuously for a good 45 minutes and were nowhere near the fortress at the top. There were a lot of people up there who didn't seem to be worried about being stranded up there. I looked all along the path for lighting and didn't see any. I didn't want to get caught in the pitch dark on top of a mountain. So, instead of continuing to the top, we headed back down, taking a few wrong turns on the way. The funny part was that as soon as we got to the bottom, it got dark. And as soon as it got dark, floodlights lit up the mountain from below. We would have had no problem taking our time and going all the way to the fortress at the top.
One of the reasons we decided to stay in Cefalu was that it looked like a good place to rent a motorcycle and do a little touring of the countryside. There were 2 or 3 motorcycle rental shops. It turns out that if you want a motorcycle, you have to reserve it well in advance. They did have scooters to rent. We stayed in 2 different B&B's while we were here. The first one was very cute and perfectly acceptable, but we couldn't find the office to pay for it. While we were looking, we found the second place, and it was just too perfect not to take. It had a terrace overlooking the ocean.
The other reason to stay in Cefalu is the great food. I'll have to look for the name of the restaurant we ate at and put it in the "tips" section. The food was so good and the waiter was so kind and we had such a memorable evening that I would go back just for that, if I could.
Cefalu and Madonie National Park - Sicily, Italy
"Madonie Natural Park"
The mountain area around Cefalu, toward the inner part of Sicily is included in the Madonie Natural Park.
Don't loose the opportunity to go to Petralia Soprana, Petralia Sottana, Gangi, Gerace, Pollina .....