One hour from: Palermo
Cathedral, beach, ancient port - you're in Paradiso
Sunday 25 August 2002
From Venus to
This fascinating medieval town, on the site of an ancient Greek and Sicilian settlement, lies beneath a rocky crag. Along with its architectural delights, Cefalu boasts a pretty port and a superb stretch of beach. Highlights include the outsize twin-towered Norman cathedral crammed with mosaics, the Arabic warren of streets, the Museo Mandralisca and the fishermen's quarter, where scenes from Cinema Paradiso were filmed.
By car: A19 east, A20 and follow signs; journey time approx 40 mins. By train: frequent expresses from Palermo central; 55 mins.
You can't beat the stunning views back to Palermo and down into the beautiful Conca D'Oro valley from this small hilltop town, famed for its Norman cathedral, which clings precariously to the slopes of Mount Caputo at around 300m above sea level. The Duomo, with its glittering gold mosaics, is a dazzling mix of Byzantine, Arab and Norman styles, framed by traditional Romanesque architecture, dating from the 12th century. Wander around the peaceful cloisters, then climb the tower for a superb view.
By car: Corso Calatafimi, then SP69; approx 15 mins. By bus: no 389 from Piazza Indipendenza; approx 25 mins.
This abandoned city, with its magnificent Doric temple, is one of the best-preserved Greek architectural sites anywhere. The tranquil beauty of the white-columned monument is enhanced by the idyllic countryside: it is easy to see why the indigenous Elymians decided to settle here back in 424BC. Don't miss the amphitheatre on Monte Barbaro, which stages Greek tragedies in Italian throughout the summer.
By car: A29 and follow signs; approx 1 hour. By train: Trapani service to Segestia-Tempio then walk; approx 1 hour plus.
With its two castles, fine city walls, beautifully paved streets and numerous medieval churches, this hilltop town on the site of a temple dedicated to Venus, Erycina is hot stuff. The panoramic views from the castle towers are unbeatable. Stop at one of the many fine restaurants and tuck into local specialities, such as couscous with fish.
By car: A29 and follow signs; approx 1 hour.
Once infamous as mafia central, the town which Mario Puzo took as his inspiration for The Godfather has cleaned up its act. Stroll through the warren of ancient streets and civilised squares lined with alfresco cafés, bars and restaurants, and sample fare which is just like mamma used to make.
By car: A19 then SS118; approx 1 hour.
In the middle of the mighty Madonia Mountains and picturesque national park, this is a rising star on the Sicilian tourist map. Don't miss the sensational views of the Tyrrhenian coast, and the Duomo with its 15th-century triptychs.
By car: A19 then SS120; approx 1 hour.
Sunvil Discovery Europe (020-8758 4722; www.sunvil.co.uk/europe) offers seven nights at the four-star Grand Hotel et des Palmes in Palermo from £922 per person, including flights with Alitalia from Heathrow and car hire. For further information contact the Italian State Tourist Office, 1 Princes Street, London W1B 2AY (020-7408 1254; www.enit.it).
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