Enna is nicknamed – not unreasonably – the “navel” and “Sicily’s belvedere”. The highest provincial capital in Italy, the city boasts a superb location on a 948m-high plateau in the centre of the island and surrounded by pale hills dotted with the odd olive tree. Right at the top, sticking out above the tawny-coloured rooftops, is Sicily’s largest fortress, a reminder of Enna’s former strategic importance.
Cathedral of Enna – Duomo
- Piazza Mazzini, 94100 Enna
- 9.30am-1pm, 4pm-7pm
Extending over the crest of Monte Marone, the town has retained its medieval atmosphere, with small alleyways lined with stone houses.
Castelbuono is a charming town that grew up in the 14C around its castle, which was built by the Ventimiglia family. Piazza Margherita marks the centre of the town; it is home to the former main church (Matrice Vecchia) and the old royal bank.
- If you plan to arrive in Cefalù by car, you should know where to park in advance, since it is not an easy task here. Being a small city, parking in the center of town is limited except for several private lots. What we did instead, is park in the outskirts of the city for free (See details on the map).
Its name originates from the Greek kephaloidion (meaning “head” or “chief”). Cefalù is an old fishing village that managed to take advantage of its picture-postcard location and the presence of Sicily’s finest cathedral, which is in an unadulterated Norman style. The numerous visitors who come here also benefit from all the amenities necessary for a pleasant stay, including a surprising number of enoteche and wine bars.
Temple of Diana
Halfway up La Rocca is the Temple of Diana, a temple created to worship the goddess of water and the moon. It is believed that this megalithic monument was built during the ninth century BC, being the only pre-classic era monument of Sicily.
Don’t expect too much from this temple. If you didn’t see signs about the temple, you would think it is just abandoned old construction. It is a shame how ruined it is.
After another half an hour of ascent, we can find the ruins of the Norman Castle. This fortification was built to protect the city from possible attacks. It also offers a 360º view of the surroundings.
From there, we could see the Nuevo Puerto Presidiana and enjoy the turquoise colour changes of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The rock of Cefalù
- Vicolo Saraceni, 90015 Cefalù
- 20-min walk to the Temple de Diana and 40-min additional walk to reach the top
La Rocca is the site where the town was originally established. Today, there are ruins from many different periods, including the pre-Hellenic temple of Diana and a castle built in the 12C and 13C. Walk along the crenellated walls to reach the promontory, from where the superb view encompasses the surrounding area from Capo d’Orlando to Palermo with Cefalù below.
Cathedral square (Piazza del Duomo)
- Piazza del Duomo, 90015 Cefalù
- You can visit the cathedral for free on the following calendar: in January, February, March, November and December, from Monday to Saturday, 8.30 – 13.30 and 15.30 – 17.00 (in the afternoon, you can visit the church on Sunday and on holidays, also).
In April, May, June, July, August, September and October, every day, Sunday and holidays included, from 8.30 to 18.30 (continued time).You can visit the cloister in January, February, March, November and December, from Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 13.00. You can visit the cloister every day (Saturday, Sunday and holidays included) in April, May, June, July, August, September and October 10.00-13.00 and 15.00- 18.00. To visit the cloister you must pay a ticket of 3 euros. For groups of 10 people the ticket is two euros per person. If you want to visit the Cefalù cathedral during the Mass or on other hours and dates, you must book the visit on the phone or by email. I checked the official website of the cathedral, but also if they have a webpage in English, the booking page is in Italian.
The square, dominated by the cathedral is bordered by two palaces. Piraino palace (on the corner of Corso Ruggero) has a late 16C portal and Maria palace was possibly once a royal residence. The 17C Episcopal palace stands to the left of the cathedral.
Lavatoio (Medieval Laundry)
- Via Vittorio Emanuele, Cefalù
The public laundry was built in the Middle Ages, in the heart of the old city where women could gather to wash and rinse clothing – and perhaps also bathe — in a series of large basins that line up in an unusual stepped sequence. A staircase of lava stones leads down to this area under wide arches, where the basins are filled with water coming from 22 spigots. The overflow water runs through a channel into the sea below. At the foot of the stairs is engraved a verse written in 1655 by Vincenzo Auria: “Here flows Cefalino, more salubrious than any other river, purer than silver, colder than snow.”
A winding, scenic road leads from Cefalù southwards to Gibilmanna, on the slopes of the 1,081-meter-high Pizzo Sant’Angelo, in the Madonie Mountains. In this beautiful wooded setting, you’ll find the pilgrimage convent of Gibilmanna. The church was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and houses a Madonna by Italian Renaissance sculptor Antonello Gagini (1478-1536) that is particularly revered. Every year on September 8, the festival of the birth of the Virgin Mary pilgrims come to the sanctuary from all over Sicily