Travel Ephemera #5: Cefalù

A slightly creased entrance ticket from the Chiesa Cattedrale di Cefalù, but what I recall most about Cefalù was where we stayed.

cefalu ticket

It seemed a long(ish) walk from Cefalù Railway Station to the seafront, made longer because I was pulling a suitcase on wheels, which was complaining bitterly about being hauled across the uneven, old cobbles of the town’s ancient streets.

Our accommodation was in the Conventi Sicilia, a formidable three storey building, constructed directly above the rocks, looking out onto the Tyrrhenian Sea, and next to the beautiful fisherman’s beach.

The front door of the convent stood open, and just inside, seated behind a simple table, an elderly nun greeted us, took our passports and gave us our room key.  A second nun showed us to our room on the second floor.  We discovered that there were only four nuns still living here, from an original community of thirty.

The room was simply furnished, but very spacious, and with glorious views over the wide, blue sea.  I was a bit anxious about my passport:

“Do you think it was all right leaving it with the nun?  It didn’t look very secure.”

It would have been impolite to ask for it back, so I was left to fret.

We explored the town during the day––went to the cathedral, although I do not recall it too well; swam in the warm, clear sea; admired the vast buttress of rock, which towers over the entire town, and vowed to scale it the following day.  We ate a supper of local fish, and returned to the convent not late, but still after the sun had set.  I had forgotten my earlier anxieties regarding my passport.  Well, almost.

The front door of the convent was still wide open.  It seemed as though anyone could wander in from the street and take anything they wanted, my passport principally.  The interior entrance hall of the convent was in compete darkness.  We walked in, slightly alarmed.

A voice spoke to us out of the darkness: it was the same elderly nun who had greeted us earlier.  She was still seated in exactly the same position as she had been before; our passports safely under her careful supervision in the drawer of the table in front of her.

Ahead, along a corridor out of sight, we suddenly heard the faint sound of spiritual chanting.  In my imagination, I pictured the other three nuns at their evening prayers.  We followed the sound; quiet, not wanting to intrude upon some personal devotion; drawn on by a light emitting from one room ahead.  The chanting was louder now; the light brighter.

We eased open the door of the room, peering in.  The caretaker of the convent sat in a comfortable chair, his feet up, happily joining in with the chants of the Palermo crowd as he watched his home team play Juventus on the TV.


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