The splendid Cefalù Cathedral, declared World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2015, “is the center from which the whole town’s beauty is diffused, and to which it converges; it is the voice that sets the tone and rhythm of everything else.”
The definition – by great Sicilian author Vincenzo Consolo (1933-2012) – conveys the wonder felt in front of the amazing Byzantine and Arab-Norman cathedral built in the first half of the 12th century, and consecrated in 1267 (according to tradition by will of Roger II, first king of the island and founder of the “Regnum Siciliae” in 1130).
In his 2012 “La mia isola è Las Vegas” (published by Mondadori), Consolo explains Cefalù, “more than any other place, displays obvious, pristine signs of the lasting and balanced confluence between Arab and Norman cultures. I say this about Cefalù, but I really mean its Cathedral.” Consolo observes how “Roger II’s generous but feisty, ‘conqueror’ nature” is evident in “the castle-cathedral he wanted to build, and especially in its two towers.”
Finally, he adds, “But luckily, the Arabs softened the harsh look of these towers. Now they speak a hermetic language of defense, conquest and aim for domination, but on top of towers they are also minarets – loquacious, open, places from which people are called and invited. And palm trees – ‘queens of the desert’ as Balzac called them – evoke the locations where minarets rose.”