The Cathedral of the city of Cefalù is part of the sites of the Arab-Norman Palermo that since 2015 are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The urban center extends in the shape of a horse inside the small flat area between the rock spike and the hilly system behind, in a very beautiful natural area.
The village has ancient origins: it was founded around the fourth century. B.C. from the Greeks who called it Kefaloidion, and used it as a fortified outpost, given its strategic position. In the Hellenic-Roman era the city was equipped with walls; during their period of government, the Byzantines leave some remains of fortifications and change the name of the city in Gafludi.
In 1063 Count Ruggero d'Altavilla conquered the city and made it a Christian outpost with the construction of numerous churches. On the death of Frederick II the city experienced a period of economic instability and passed from one fief to another, until it was redeemed by the Bishop in 1451. The "patron saint" of the city of Cefalù is celebrated on December 8th and is the Immaculate.
For those who love the excursion near Cefalù, there is the Monte di Pietà which was founded on Via Mandralisca in 1703 by the bishop Matteo Muscella. The ancient church can still be visited today and can be reached by following a long scenic dirt path of medium difficulty. According to the Walled Towns Friendship Circle, a prestigious English literary circle, Cefalù is one of the best preserved walled cities not only in Sicily, but in the whole European scene.
The event most felt by the city is the feast of the "Most Holy Salvatore", to whose cult the Cathedral (Duomo) is consecrated; the relative festival is held every year from 2 to 6 August. On this occasion, in addition to the religious celebrations held in the Cathedral, a great historical re-enactment is organized as well as a village party much loved by locals and tourists (do not miss the "ntinna a mari" which takes place on 6 August). In addition to this a beautiful folk festival is the Vecchia Strina. The latter is born as a figure of old charity that the night between December 31 and January 1 brings gifts to good children and coal and ash for the bad ones. In the days before the children it is recommended not to make too much noise because "the old strina r'u casteddu si 'nna adduna": its home is in fact imagined on the ancient Rocca di Cefalù. Very special is the Feast of the Sea in Cefalù, a great folk festival, during which there are parades of folk groups, tastings of typical Sicilian products and the Blue Fish Festival is held. The event is held every year in July.
Cefalù's cooking is strictly linked to tradition, with good and genuine dishes. To taste are: arancine prepared with rice, beef or pork, eggs, peas, broad beans, artichokes that are then fried in a pan; frittedda, a dish made of artichokes, beans, peas seasoned with oil and white wine vinegar. The sfincione, bread dough filled with spicy salami, caciocavallo and chopped onion and finally the sarde a beccafico, with small fish seasoned with breadcrumbs, raisins, pine nuts with a sprinkling of minced basil and parsley. Among the desserts you can not try the Sicilian cassata and the Sicilian cannoli, both prepared with ricotta and candied fruit and the typical torrone with millefiori honey. There are also excellent ice creams, strictly based on fresh fruit, and granitas, in particular those based on traditional coffee-based almonds. The typical dish of Cefalù, which is worth spending a few words aside, is the Pasta a Taianu. In honor of this dish is also organized a festival run by the Polis Kephaloidion Culture Center of Cefalù. It is a very old dish, dating back to the Arab domination and which has remained traditionally in the domestic culinary use. The word "taianu" comes from the Arabic "ancient taio", which is the terracotta pot used for cooking. The pasta is prepared on several layers with the addition of frayed meat cooked in tomato, then add the aubergines, which are first fried, seasoned with pecorino cheese and then frayed. Over the years have been created different variants, in particular in place of beef is sometimes replaced the lamb and the aubergines are baked again and not fried. The cooking is done only by wood with the addition of coals also on the lid, in order to cook at the same time above and below. In recent years, in addition to pecorino has also been provided a more "racy" variant with the addition of various cheeses and in particular mozzarella, which however is not typical of this area.