Saturday, July 14, 2007

June 2007 - Cefalu, Sicily - Sand-Colored City

We arrived at the port of Cefalu, a city founded on a steep promontory in the middle of the north coast of Sicily, at sunset. The port is on the east side of the promontory, and the medieval town is situated on the west side of it.
This was our first view of Cefalu as we got off the boat and walked along the dock. We had to wheel our luggage about a half hour uphill and around the lower portion of this big rock and lighthouse (silly of us, expect taxis to be waiting for passengers at the port). Anyway, the scenery was worth the walk.
As we rounded the tip of the rock, we came upon the most picturesque medieval village, nestled around a beautiful (over-sized) cathedral that dwarfs it. We snapped this shot as we passed it on our way to our B&B, with luggage in tow. Cefalu is famous for its Duomo which is a rich golden sand color just like the cliffs that frame it. And the Duomo at sunset will always be our image of Cefalu and its magnificent color.

We were greeted in Cefalu by a peasants' parade (contadini in Italian). They come in from the countryside riding antique tractors and displaying their bounty. The parade involves all kinds of locals - from farmers to fishermen to the high school band and the day's newlywed. But the farmers on tractors steal the show. This is what we expected from Sicily.

This man was able to mount actual citrus trees on the back of his tractor.

Then a fisherman many came by with his small boat loaded with fresh fish.

It wouldn't be a parade without Jesus.

Yes, that float is handing out day-old bread. And people are lining up for a piece.

We couldn't figure out who this float was celebrating but we're pretty sure it is a saint. Sicilians never have a parade without carrying around the image of a saint or the Virgin Mary. This picture also displays the lovely Piazza Garibaldi on which our hotel was located. So we watched the parade from our window above.

This is the view from the main window of our hotel room. You can see La Rocca perched high on the cliff. Our second day in Cefalu we climbed to the top of the castle. See below. This is the view from the kitchen and bathroom windows of our B&B.

In the morning, we enjoyed coffee and pastries at the bar on Piazza Garibaldi. The sea air that blows through here cannot be beat.

Cefalu is a city full of golden hues from the Cathedral to the buildings on the streets.

Here is Casandra on the town's main street, Corso Ruggero, as we head for the Cathedral. This lively square dominated by the massive Cathedral and the steep Rocca is known as the heart of Cefalu.
The Cathedral is one of Sicily's most important Norman monuments built in 1131 under the rule of Roger II. After his death the Cathedral was left unfinished and completed in bits and pieces.

High in the apse is the splendid mosaic of Christ the Pantocrator with the Virgin Mary, archangels and apostles.
The nave is divided by arches supported by marble columns and covered painted, wooden beams showing Islamic influence.
The square facing the Cathedral is a wonderful for an after-dinner drink or a stroll.

Here is Kenny on the basalt rocks which provide a natural breakwater for Cefalu. This spot is used by locals for fishing and hanging out. The view is all water as far as the eye can see. After sitting on the pier for awhile and watching the locals have fun at the beach, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed to the public beach.

Oh my that's cold water!I was brave enough to get in, but I assure you this water is nowhere near Miami Beach temperatures.

On our last day in Cefalu we decided to climb to the top of La Rocca. The best part of this climb are the views of Cefalu and the torquoise sea that surrounds it.
The base of La Rocca is made up of a national park full of shady spots perfect for a break after a long climb. The worst of the climb is still to come.Kenny really enjoyed the long steep walk on the dusty path. He had his camera out the whole time and captured some amazing shots of the view. I just huffed and puffed behind him and captured only pictures of Kenny in action.Here is Kenny standing up against the battlements of the castle ruins. He says, "this is the best possible view of Cefalu!"Until he climbs up on the center tower of the castle. Now he is really feeling a sense of accomplishment and from here he realizes we must climb to the other side of the castle for impressive views of the town's port and the bay. See below.

Now we're off to Sardegna for some more spectacular beaches and amazing views.

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