Well, we didn’t JUST sit on the beach all week. On our last day in Cefalu, we climbed the famous La Rocca that overlooks the town (really, it is more like a mountain).
The rock has a long and storied history. At various points, whole civilizations lived up there to escape pirates or conquering enemies. The earliest known site is a cistern from the 9th – 10th century BC (which is kind of mind-boggling). It is near a Temple to Diana from the 4th-5th century BC. We got our picture taken in the doorway – it is pretty well-preserved for being 2500 years old!
La Rocca was even more developed around the 11th century AD, when a race a “giant Arabs” (according to the guidebook) moved there to escape their enemy. They built a castle, look-out posts, storage buildings, and even a sophisticated water collection system so they could withstand a long siege. They ultimately were forced down the mountain by Norman conquerors in 1061.
Today, visitors can hike up to the top and see the various ruins along the way. Frank and I brought along bottles of water and were ready to go. At first, the paths were wide and paved, if a little steep. But we stopped and rested. We did keep noticing younger people with hiking shoes and backpacks passing us by, but didn’t think much of it.
Until we hit the trail to the castello (castle). I use the work “trail” generously – it was more like a rocky incline, where, in a few places, we actually debated what was the trail and what was a path just straight up the mountain. If someone was coming the other way, you both had to plan carefully because the “trail” wasn’t big enough for two, and there was a drop-off on one side. But once we were there, we were committed. So we kept picking our way up, up, up the mountain. (We do not have any pictures of this part because we had to concentrate so hard not to fall of the mountain!)
When we got to the top, we did have an amazing view – they say 22 miles. Frank estimates we climbed the equivalent of 90 stories! We felt very proud of ourselves.
And then we had to go down. Which is MUCH harder than climbing up. It took all our concentration to pick our way down, down, down 90 stories of a narrow, rocky trail. At one point, I turned to Frank and declared that I was having not just one glass of wine at lunch, but two. He said, “OK – just pay attention.”
We made it down the mountain and stiffly strolled through town – proud of our accomplishment. We rewarded ourselves with a nice lunch at a beautiful restaurant on the water – where I indeed had two glasses of wine.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at our apartment napping, taking Advil, and groaning each time we stood up. But we can say we conquered La Rocca.
Next Up: The Biggest Adventure of All – Frank & I are renting a sailboat in Sicily!