Parco Regionale dei Nebrodi
The Nebrodi Regional Park was established in 1993 and constitutes the single largest forested area in Sicily. In fact, this is Sicilian author Gesualdo Bufalino's real 'island within an island', dotted with remote and traditional villages that host few visitors.
The Romans discovered the therapeutic value of Termini Imerese's mineral-laden waters way back in 252 BC, and the town has been a popular thermal spa centre ever since. These days, all of the spa action occurs at the Grand Hotel delle Terme, a large Liberty-style building dating from 1890.
The busiest resort town on the coast after Cefalù, Capo d'Orlando was founded – legend tells us – when one of Charlemagne's generals, a chap called Orlando, stood on the headland and declared it a fine place to build a castle. The ruins of this structure are still visible.
San Marco d'Alunzio
This spectacularly situated hilltop town, 9km from the coast, was founded by the Greeks in the 5th century BC and then occupied by the Romans, who named it Aluntium and built structures such as the Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules) at the town's entrance. A Norman church, now roofless, was subsequently built on the temple's red marble base.
Beautifully positioned at the top of a hill above a tree line of pines, Petralia Soprana (from the Italian word sopra, meaning 'above') is one of the best-preserved small towns in north-central Sicily, full of picturesque stone houses and curling wrought-iron balconies brimming with geraniums. It's also the highest village in the Madonie.
Lorded over by its imposing Castello di Caccamo, this hilltop town is a popular day trip from both Cefalù and Palermo. Though the area was settled in ancient times, Caccamo was officially founded in 1093, when the Normans began building their fortress on a rocky spur of Monte San Calogero.
The upper reaches of this charming medieval town are dominated by the pink-and-cream Basilica San Pietro on Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the weathered remains of a nearby Norman castle. Like Castelbuono, the town was once governed by the Ventimiglias and retains an aristocratic air.
Founded in 648 BC by Greeks from Zankle (now Messina), this usually deserted archaeological site was named after the river Imera, which flows nearby. It was the first Greek settlement on this part of the island and was a strategic outpost on the border of the Carthaginian-controlled west.
Sant'Agata di Militello
This popular resort town grew up around the Torre della Marina, a coastal watchtower erected in the 13th century. In summer it's usually crammed with Italians eager to make the most of the long stretch of pebbled beach. There are few cultural sites other than the much-modified Castello Gallego in the town centre.
Located on the western border of Nebrodi Regional Park, and accessed via the SS117 from Santo Stefano di Camastra, is the charming hilltop time capsule of Mistretta. The streets here have hardly changed over the past 300 years, and most of the locals look as if they've been around for almost as long.
Castel di Tusa
Named after the castle that now lies in ruins 600m above it, this small coastal resort about 25km east of Cefalù is best known for the controversial Fiumara d'Arte, an open-air sculpture park featuring a collection of contemporary artworks scattered along the fiumara (riverbed) of the Tusa River.