There are some places in the world that everyone loves. Cefalù (pronounced ‘chefaloo’) is one of those places. People just fall in love with it. After having toured around Sicily, many return to Cefalù the following year with their extended family or friends. Some even end up buying holiday villas in Cefalù there before retiring there. So what is it that makes it so special?
1. Coastal location
Cefalù is not only picturesque but it is easy to get to and perfect for beach lovers. It is just an hour away from Palermo airport on the sunny north coast of Sicily. It sits on a beautiful stretch of coastline and the town itself has an incredible, long, sandy beach. From any beachside restaurant, terrace or even as your stroll through parts of the cobbled historic centre, you can admire panoramic views out to the Aeolian islands and the Bay of Palermo.
The surrounding landscape is mountainous so ideal for those who love an active lifestyle and nature. The dramatic backdrop to Cefalu and its beach is the magnificent Madonie mountains regional park, the setting for some of the best holiday villas in the area. Vineyards, olive groves and cactus plants all grow on the slopes while other parts are more open and wild, attracting many outdoor pursuits such as hill walking and horse riding.
3. History and culture
A picture postcard medieval town with narrow streets, squares and terracotta rooftops, it is little wonder that Cefalù is regularly featured as a film location, most notably in Giuseppe Tornatore’s film Cinema Paradiso. At the heart of the historic centre lies a handsome Arab-Norman cathedral. Now a UNESCO World heritage site, the cathedral dates back to the 12 th century and boasts elaborate Byzantine mosaics, so be sure to go inside. A fascinating array of archaeological artefacts is on display at the Madralisca Museum while a puppet theatre and medieval wash house are among the many historical highlights to discover. Whether you choose to sip a cappuccino on the cathedral square or climb the craggy mountain of la Rocca which towers above the town, crowned with a medieval fortress, the history of Cefalù surrounds you.
4. Food and wine
Cefalù is a paradise for foodies. If cooking is your thing, then head to the market or historic centre to buy fresh seafood as well as delicious seasonal vegetables and fruit. Hire a private chef at your villa for a celebration meal or choose to eat out at Cefalù’s excellent restaurants which range from traditional to more modern, coastal and rural specialities. Be sure to visit a winery or local enoteca to taste a range of delicious local Sicilian wine.
5. Friendly locals
Sicilians are known for being warm and welcoming so visitors quickly feel at home in Cefalù. It is working town where people live all year round, yet the pace of life is relaxed. There is always time for a coffee, a chat, a good meal and pleasant stroll with friends. Everyone is welcome and included. Do not be surprised if the owner of your holiday villa gives you a bottle of their own olive oil or wine on arrival, just to be kind. Sicilians prioritise family life so if you have children, they will be welcomed with open arms in hotels and restaurants.
Massimo Provenza is Director and Owner of Massimo Villa Collection. Massimo Villa Collection a villa rental company specialising in villa holidays to Sicily, Puglia, Tuscany and Formentera.