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Sicily - Italy


Cities and Towns in Sicily

Cefalu is a beautiful town on Sicily's western coast, close to both Messina and Palermo, it is nestled between the Modonie mountains and the sea.  It is a very beautiful and picturesque place with an ancient history, definitely making it worthwhile to stop in on your journey through Sicily.
The Greeks knew the settlement as "Cephaloedion", derived from their word for cape.  The city can brag of  a very picturesque fishing harbor, surrounded by houses and other buildings which seem to be built on the water itself, and a number of sandy beaches where, in the summer and its flanking seasons, one may idle indulgently under the notoriously hot Sicilian sun.
The history of the city, which sits on a spur of land that juts into the Tyrrhenian Sea, follows the general history of Sicily.  Settled by the Greeks, then the Phoenecians, the city came under the successive domination of the Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Spaniards and others.
Not surprisingly, the architecture and monuments in Cefalu, reflect its historical evolution.  The most dominate building in the city, however, is the Duomo, and adjacent abbey and cloister, whose construction was started in 1131 AD under the Norman ruler, Roger II.  It is said to be one of the finest examples of Norman architecture, but the Wikipedia editor says that it is more accurately Sicilian Romanesque. The mosaics in the interior of the church are justifiably among the most famous in the world, and reveal the influence of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, which is still felt in Cefalu today.
The maze of old medieval streets and alleys within the city itself are a pleasure to walk through.  Keep an eye out for the "lavatoio", where bathers could bathe and cool-off in pools fed by underwater springs. When Roger II came to Cefalu, he stayed at the Osteria Magna - the Great Guesthouse which you can tour.
If you have the legs and stamina for a long, steep climb, the mountain on the north side of the city offers a spectacular view of Cefalu, the long coast east and west, and out into the Tyrrhenian.  At its summit, sit the ruins of a large Norman fortress built between the 11th and 12th centuries and the more ancient Greek temple - the Temple of Diana, where members of a cult devoted to Hercules worshipped and banged their drums.  The temple appears to have been built on the foundations of a structure dating to the 9th century BC.
If you have an urge to leave the most touristed areas, you might want to drive to the Gibilmanna Sanctuary high in the Madonie Mountains about 15 kilometers south.  The attraction is not the sanctuary itself, but the forests that surround the area.  Likewise, Castelbuono, also in a wooded area, is a small town about 25 kilometers from Cefalu is a charming place worth taking the time to visit.  Alas, the castle, once owned by the dominating feudal family, the Ventimiglias, is not open to the public.




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Dear Guiseppe and Jesse,
We just returned from our most wonderful vacation to Italy and wanted to first thank you for putting together such a wonderful trip, and second to provide some feedback for the future.

1. Hotel Sovestro in San Gimignano was wonderful. The staff were very friendly and helpful and made the first portion of our journey very stress free. They made us feel like we were part of their family. I would recommend it to anyone and would specifically ask for it if we were to make a return visit.

2. Hotel La Baia in Monterosso was nice and it's location was very good especially for us older folks humping luggage from/to the train station.

3. Hotel Lucchesi in Florence- what can I say expect FANTASTIC. The rooftop view at sunset is well worth it. Again very friendly and helpful staff. Would recommend it to everyone.

Wine Tour
Money well spent. We had a great time overall. The driver Mario was OUTSTANDING. He had lots of local knowledge as well as about winemaking. USE HIM AGAIN!!!

The various wineries we visited on tour:
Altesino- fantastic and they were not cheap on their pouring. Great experience.
Azienda Agricola Patrizia Cencion Sloaria- Again a great tour by one of the owner's daughters. We felt like we were the only thing on their mind although there were other customers there. A great way to complete the day.

Again we had a fantastic time and are very appreciative of everything you booked for us. We wish you continued success and if our travels should bring us back to Italy, we know who to call.

- Ron and Deb Crosby Read More


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