South of Cefalù the Madonie mountains rise to an elevation of 2000m (6500ft), a wild landscape of woods, rocks and upland pastures. Unlike most of Sicily, the Madonie range has not been scarred by deforestation or urban blight. Every so often the winding roads come to the gates of a pretty hill town.
Castelbuono, about 14km (9 miles) south of Cefalù on route 286, climbs the flanks of the enfolding hills, and its airy piazzas, usually backed by a church or two, afford some lovely views over the mountains. Petralia Soprana, 30km (19 miles) further into mountains, is one of the most beautiful towns in Sicily, it commands a hilltop, and stone palaces and churches line its medieval streets. Covered passageways lead to a belvedere with bracing views. Polizzi Generosa, 15km (9 miles) beyond, is at the head of agreed valley and has 76 churches within its walls. The Chiesa Madre is the most opulent, and is decorated with several sculptures by Domenico Gagini. It also has a 16th century Flemish triptych and Venetian organ. The beautiful landscapes that stretch for miles around these towns are preserved as the Parco Regionale delle Madonie and can be traversed on a network of trails.