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What to see in Procida island, Italy

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Let’s escape to the enchanting island of Procida, a tiny gem near Naples with pastel-hued houses, hidden coves, and irresistible Italian charm.

Sunset in Procida island, Italy
Sunset in Procida island, Italy

Procida island first popped up on my radar while reading Elsa Morante’s novel “Arturo’s Island” back in my high-school days. At that time, I didn’t really see it as one a must-see in Italy, especially with the alluring Capri and Ischia hogging the spotlight nearby. But guess what? I finally decided to give it a chance and, oh boy, what a gem!

Spanning a mere 4 square meters, this beautiful, pint-sized paradise has managed to retain its own unique character and genuine fishing-village charm despite being located in an area full of famous tourist spots. It just seems that this place and its inhabitants are completely unconcerned with the passage of time and trends. 

Forget about fancy hotels, Michelin-starred dining, or haute couture boutiques. Here, it’s all about pastel-colored houses, secret lemon groves flourish behind towering walls, clothes swaying in the breeze along narrow lanes where you practically become one with the wall as cars pass by.

Now, close your eyes and imagine a lazy afternoon unfolding. The aroma of freshly caught fish grilling, the warmth of the sun caressing your face, and tiny fishing boats gently floating in the sea, while seasoned fishermen leisurely chatting and mending their nets. Can you feel the magic?

Things to see in Procida Island, Italy

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Procida is just about tranquillity and relaxation. There are actually some interesting places waiting to be discovered.

First on the agenda is Terra Murata, the island’s crowning glory at 90 meters above sea level. This part of the island is dominated by Palazzo d’Avalos, an ancient building with a riveting past as a royal palace for the Bourbons and later a prison until just a few decades ago. Excitingly, it’s now open to the public, and you can snag tickets on the municipality of Procida’s website

At the top of the promontory stands the Church of Santa Margherita Nuova, treating you to breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples. But the highlight is the Abbey of San Michele, Procida’s patron saint, which was built by Benedictine monks in the 11th century. Inside, you can marvel at artistic renditions of San Michele, explore a library filled with old manuscripts, discover an ancient burial ground in the basement, and see a unique nativity scene crafted with local oyster shells.

The promontory of Terra Murata overlooking the sea

Copyright: Francesco Marino at Unsplash

Next to the abbey lies Palazzo della Cultura, home to the Museum Casa di Graziella on the second floor. This museum offers an insight into the traditional life on the island in the 19th century through the reconstruction of the house of Graziella, the heroine of the beautiful love story written by the French author Alphonse De Lamartine in 1852. Make sure to check out the little room near the reception desk – it’s a treasure trove of vintage textiles for sale!

Descending from Terra Murata to Piazza dei Martiri, follow the path near the church of San Rocco, leading you to Marina Corricella. This charming fishing village, Procida’s oldest settlement, boasts a cascade of colorful houses perched on one another, along with quaint restaurants and bars overlooking the harbor. This area served as the set of various movies, including The Talented Mr. Ripley and Oscar-winning Il Postino.

Back on the main road, traverse Corso Vittorio Emanuele and seek the path guiding you to Chiaia Beach. This sandy stretch, with its shallow waters and natural wind protection, is perfect for the little ones. There are good facilities here, including La Conchiglia, one of the restaurants often suggested by guidebooks (although I didn’t personally try it).

Heading south takes you to Chiaiolella (don’t worry, it’s difficult to pronounce even for an Italian!), Procida’s most popular beach. It features a little marina adorned with fancy boats and yachts, plus a selection of bars and restaurants with picturesque views of Ischia and Vivara, a volcanic islet connected to Procida by a quaint pedestrian bridge. Nearby is another gem, Ciraccio Beach, from which is separated by two big rock formations called “faraglioni”.

Don’t forget Pozzo Vecchio, in the island’s north-western part, a serene bay also known as “Spiaggia del Postino” for its role in the movie. The family-run bar Annamaria offers light snacks, sun beds, and umbrellas in the summer – perfect for catching those breathtaking sunsets.

Procida’s economic heartbeat is Marina Grande, the main port bustling with ferries, boat tours, buses, and taxis. The vibrant piazza, overlooked by the bright yellow Church of Santa Maria della Pietà or “Sailors’ Church.” Here, you can enjoy a quick swim at Lingua Beach or take a stroll along via Roma and via Vittorio Emanuele, Procida’s main streets. Fun fact: Elsa Morante wrote her famous book at number 225 in via Vittorio Emanuele during her stay at Pensione Eldorado in the Fifties (though, sadly, the place is now closed).

Colorful fishing boats harbored in procida island

Tips for visiting Procida Island

  • Heading to Procida from Naples? You’ve got two options: hop on a ferry from Porta di Massa (about an hour of nautical excitement) or catch a hydrofoil from Molo Beverello (a quick 40-minute ride). Check out the timetables and ticket prices on the Caremar and SNAV websites.
  • Sure, you could zip through Procida in a day, but trust me, this gem deserves more of your time. I strongly recommend spending at least one night on the island to soak up its magical vibes. And for the best Procida experience, walk! Of course, if your feet need a break, you can always hop on a local bus. Just keep an open mind when it comes to timetables!
  • I recently spent two fabulous nights at La Corricella, a sweet little hotel carved out of a fisherman’s house in Marina Corricella. You’ll find a cozy vibe and a killer terrace with jaw-dropping harbor views made it a winner.
  • Now, Procida might be small, but its local transport game is surprisingly big with four routes (L1, L2, C1, C2). For a tiny island, that’s pretty impressive. Check the timetables and prices on their website.
  • If you are a foodie like me, then you will be spoilt with choices in Procida. I tried La Locanda del Postino (super fresh and tasty fish dishes), Bar Ristorante Graziella (spaghetti with lemon and anchovies to die for!), Pizzeria Fuego (the place to go if you crave some pizza after all that fish) and La Panetteria (a fantastic bakery where you can try the famous local sweet treat, lingua di bue).
  • Grab a copy of “Arturo’s Island” or “Graziella” at Libreria Nutrimenti, a lovely bookshop on via Roma, in Marina Grande. The stories of its characters will foster your memories of this beautiful Italian island once back home  

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