Travel Notes: Cefalu

In May and June of 2011, I spent 5 weeks traveling around Europe. This post is one of a series chronicling the different places I visited on that trip.

After Palermo, our next major stop on our tour of Sicily was Cefalu, a lovely, small seaside town. We arrived in the late afternoon, stopping just outside the city to get a few pictures. It was spectacular:

On our first night, we took an orientation walk around Cefalu and then stopped with our group for some gelato in the town’s main square. This seems as good a time as any to proclaim that, much like cannoli, gelato in Italy is damn near perfect. It’s also super dangerous, because what with all the walking you do while exploring places, it’s easy to convince yourself it is okay to have gelato whenever you want.

Our walk continued until we reached the shore, and we arrived just in time to see a gorgeous sunset over the water. Also right around that time, a wedding party was taking pictures nearby, and our tour guide got us all to chant “bacia, bacia” (kiss, kiss!). It was a cool moment, and the bride and groom were good sports about it. The whole wedding party seemed quite amused by us, this group of American tourists chanting and taking pictures of them.

The next morning began with a climb up La Rocca, the big rock fortress Cefalu sits at the foot of. We didn’t go all the way to the very top, but we did get to a nice bluff pretty high up with great views of the town, harbor, and cathedral below. I’m not a huge fan of hiking, but – like most hikes – once we got to the top, it all seemed worth it.

After our hike, mom and I headed to a restaurant near the water for lunch. The place we ended up picking was a little too touristy for my tastes, and the food was unremarkable, but it did serve up a nice, strong midday cocktail – so at least there’s that. Then, we walked around near the water for awhile, just relaxing. It seemed too cold to swim, so we just dipped our feet in – and even that was a little too chilly for me!

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Duomo (cathedral) of Cefalu. It was beautiful but not quite as remarkable as other churches I’ve visited around Italy. However, one thing I do find remarkable is how such a small place can have such a big cathedral – and, it seems, you find these lovely churches in towns all over Italy, no matter how small the place.

Then, as our reward for our morning hike, we grabbed some gelato and sat in the square for awhile (okay, full disclosure – we probably would have eaten gelato even if we had slept all morning instead of hiking).

In the evening, we all met up on our hotel’s terrace for pre-dinner drinks. Then, we headed to dinner at Al Porticciolo, where we ate out on the deck, overlooking the water at sunset – which is obviously a pretty spectacular dinner ambiance to have. And – continuing a glorious theme on this trip – we had another feast of a meal, including this:

And this:

And of course this:

The dishes were:

  • Primi: 2 kinds of pasta: a risotto with asparagus and shrimp and a penne with swordfish, tomatoes, artichokes, and other assorted goodness
  • Secondi: a gigantic piece of swordfish (“very delicious,” I wrote in my journal that night.)
  • Dolci: a cannoli AND a piece of very rich, very sugary cake (because why would they give everyone just one dessert?)

As I write this, I realize my entries for Rome and Palermo ended the exact same way – with a delicious meal. We were very lucky in Italy, indeed.

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