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Towering 250m over the coastline, Cefalù nestles beneath a majestic limestone headland known as the Rocca.

The site had religious importance since prehistoric times, then the Arabs and later the Normans took over.

In the past century this region was the nest of today's strongest Italian mafia-clan in New York - the Gambinos. Its current leader Domenico Cefalu, was born and raised around these hills.

Palermo and the area - along with the rest of Europe - is currently faced a great challenge: north-african immigrants are taken to these ports by the thousands each day.

Many of these asylum-seekers are rescued straight from the sea - and many of them sadly end their journey there. 

A lot of visitors to this region plan their trip to include a few days of volunteering - and so could you!


Over 50,000 people arrived in Italy in the first half of 2017. Many who arrive are traumatized - they may have lost loved ones and risked their own lives while crossing the Mediterranean. 

There are many organizations operating in Italy who accept donations to help the refugee crisis, so we’ve picked out just a few:

- Save the Children, which works with children as soon as they step on shore and in centres across Italy. They have both a global (https://www.savethechildren.net/) and national (https://www.savethechildren.it/dona-ora) donation page. 

- Don’t miss Italy’s version of the Red Cross (https://www.icrc.org/en/donate), the Croce Rossa (https://www.cri.it/home).

- The International Organization for Migration (https://www.iom.int/) also has staff helping refugees in Italy.

- Doctors Without Borders (MSF, http://www.msf.org/), Medici Senza Frontiere in Italian (http://www.medicisenzafrontiere.it/) has medical teams in Italy. They are also operating their own rescue ships and working alongside another organization, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS, https://www.moas.eu/), to help rescue people at sea.

- Emergency (https://en.emergency.it/projects/italy-medical-assistance-for-migrants-in-sicily/) also operates in Sicily, providing assistance to migrants arriving in Italy via Libya

A number of the organizations listed above accept volunteers too. While some tasks can be done by just about anyone, such as handing out breakfast at a refugee centre, think hard about whether you have any particular skills which could be valuable (translation, counseling, etc) if you live in Italy or you happen to visit the country.
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