Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cefalu
Cefalù is strikingly situated at the foot of a rock halfway along the north coast of Sicily.
The name Cefalù is derived from the Greek Kephaloidion and Latin Cephaloedium, which in turn is connected with the word Kephalos (Greek for "head"). This refers to the shape of the rock, at the bottom of which the present town is situated and on top of which the original settlement was built. This rock, the Rocca di Cefalù, lent itself in ancient times to being both a place of settlement and one of worship. Exact data for the early period are not obtainable, but some evidence of both Phoenician and Sikel occupation has been traced. The town entered historical records in 396 B.C. when it joined the Carthaginian town of Himilkon in its campaign against Messina. The Sikel town was twice conquered by Syracuse, in 394 B.C. by Dionysios I and in 305 B.C. by Agathokles. In 254 B.C. the Romans were able to capture it and bring it under the civitas decumana. Subsequently the town never retained any importance, either under the rule of the Byzantines (395-858) or the Arabs (858-1063). This was to alter only with the advent of the Norman king Roger II. He moved the settlement down to the base of the rock from its fortified position on the top and in 1131, just one year after his coronation, started work on the majestic cathedral which to this day dominates the townscape.