La Rocca, locally called u castieddu (the castle), is a fortified cliff 268 meters high overlooking the beautiful town of Cefalù, rising on the Tyrrhenian coast, one of the most important reference points for navigation between Palermo and Messina.
The relief of La Rocca has at its base a triangle with the ridges facing east, west and south. On all sides, the Rocca is characterized by very high cliffs that are practically inaccessible. The complex of fortifications (lower walls, upper walls and the castle on the top) is therefore adapted to the extraordinary topography of the site, constituting a real acropolis.
The lower western part of La Rocca is characterized by the ruins of a series of mills and pipelines that collected and exploited the water that descended on the slope. On this side, the path fortified in the Middle Ages climbs to the top of the hill.
The perimeter halfway to the top is surrounded by crenellated walls dating back to the Middle Ages and completed, in the recent part, in the 15th century. On the western side of the walls, opens the access gate to which the path leads.
Still halfway up the hill, about 150 meters above the sea level, on the small internal plateau of the cliff, there are remains of a megalithic construction dating back to the 5th or 4th century B.C., called the Temple of Diana.
On the top, there are the remains of a medieval castle dating back to the 13th or 14th century, that give the Sicilian name of the entire cliff, u castieddu. Used throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle then underwent extensive alterations between the 16th and 17th centuries. The definitive abandonment of the complex, already devoid of military importance, happened probably during the 19th century. Since 1989, major works of consolidation have been started.
In the part facing north, overlooking the Cathedral of Cefalù, has been erected a metal cross several meters high, that at night lights up to dominate the landscape.
HOW TO GET THERE
La Rocca can be seen from anywhere in the area, from miles away, so it’s hard to miss. To reach the top, a difficult climb awaits you. Give yourself an hour or more to explore the entire complex.