If you’ll soon be jetting off to one of our Italian country villas in Sicily, make sure you add the mediaeval town of Cefalù to your list of must-do day trips. Standing guard over the Tyrrhenian Sea, it’s a bustling mix of Romanesque architecture and narrow cobbled streets that’s definitely best explored on foot. Late spring is the ideal time to visit, with light breezes creating ideal walking conditions – take a look at our top four walks in the area.
1. La Rocca
La Rocca offers arguably the best view in Cefalù. It’s a good hour’s hike to the top but once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with a picture-perfect panorama of colourful rooftops, sparkling seas and pretty harbour. On a clear day, you can even pick out the Aeolian Islands in the distance. On the way up, you’ll pass the ruins of the Temple of Diana, the perfect place for a ‘half time’ picnic.
2. Castelbuono to Piano Pomo
Half an hour’s drive from Cefalù lies the equally beautiful town of Castelbuono. Take the time to wander past 14th century houses and the Renaissance church before heading to Piano Sempria, just south of the town, from where you can walk the ‘Giant Holly Trail’ to Piano Pomo. It’s a forest-based stroll with plenty of flora and fauna along the way and, at the end, you’ll be greeted by a gathering of huge holly trees, some of which are thought to be over 300 years old.
3. Sant’ Ambrogio loop
Sant’Ambrogio is an archetypal Sicilian village, complete with sleepy bars and friendly locals. You can walk up out of the village along stony tracks towards the mountain at Guarneri. Complete a circle around this giant, then return via a coastal track with spectacular views of the ocean below. Along the way, you’ll pass through quaint forest glades and even come across some shepherds’ cottages where, if you’re lucky, you can pick up some fresh cheese for lunch.
4. Town tour
Cefalù itself makes for a beautiful passeggiata, and there’s no better way to get your bearings. From the Villa Artisti just outside the city centre, wander down to the 12th century Chiesa di Cefalù, which houses an impressive collection of mediaeval mosaics. After that, turn south onto the town’s main thoroughfare, Corso Ruggero, pausing to admire the former royal palace of Osterio Magno. Stop for coffee in the central Piazza Garibaldi, then walk along the Lungomare Giuseppe Giardina, a beautiful beach-side promenade. On your way back into town, make sure you stop by the picturesque fishing wharf, which was used for many scenes in the iconic film Cinema Paradiso.
If you’ve already crossed Sicily off your travel list, don’t forget that Italy has lots more to offer and you can get inspired where to head next while browsing through our portfolio of gorgeous Italian villas.Photo credit: Lead image via Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho on Flickr, La Rocca image via Andy Hay, Castelbuono via Erwin Verbruggen, Sant’Ambrogio via Sarah Murray.