On-Site Italian Research
Jewish Italian Research
Cefalu (Palermo Province) is 70 km. from Palermo, alt. 16 m., on the slopes of the "Rocca", on the Tyrrhenian Sea, area 65.8 sq. km., pop. over 13,900, post-code 90015, tel. 0921. Economy: tourism and associated activities, general service industries, agriculture (olive oil, wine, citrus fruit, vegetables), fishing.
Cefalu's ancient name, Kephaloidion, would appear to be derived from Kefale, which means head or headland. The area was certainly inhabited in pre-Hellenic times, as confirmed by the numerous discoveries of human settlements in the caves on the Rocca and on its western slopes. The population maintained close contact both with the Greeks of eastern Sicily and with the Phoenicians of western Sicily. In 254 BC it became a Roman city, first "decuman" and then "stipendiary". After the Byzantine age, the Muslims succeeded in occupying it after a lengthy siege. When the Normans took the town in 1063, a period of great splendor began for Cefalu which culminated in the foundation of the bishopric in 1131. Cefalu's importance did not diminish over the centuries, and it has always been a center of great interest.
Of interest is the Porta della Terra, one of the town's ancient gates, and the ancient megalithic wall that surrounded the city. Osterio Magno is possibly of Norman origin, restructured in the 13th century, restored in 1993. The town hall is in the building previously owned by the Convento di Santa Caterina. The Palazzo Vescovile was built in the 18th century. The Museo Mandralisca displays the collections of Baron Enrico Piraino di Mandralisca. Climbing the Rocca, you'll find the Temple of Diana (5th to 4th century BC) which incorporates a cistern which dates to the 9th century BC.
Light music for summer nights in July.
Churches (Cefalu Diocese) include the following:
Families researched in these records include the following:
Links to other sites about Cefalu include:
My latest book on CD is titled Sicily - A Reference for Researchers and is now available. With a file for each town (plus many other files), it relates the history of Sicily as reflected in the photos, records and festivals of its towns. It contains over 2500 text and photo files and can be ordered at CD order.