Set between the Italian city of Naples and the island of Ischia, the tiny island of Procida packs a lot into its mere 1.5 square miles. A top day trip from Naples, Procida is often overlooked by tourists headed to Ischia or even better-known Capri. But expect to be hearing much more about Procida. The colorful island has been named Italy's Capital of Culture for 2022, meaning more and more people will be discovering its charms. Definitely a slow-paced alternative to those who want to avoid the crowds and touristy scenes on Capri and Ischia, Procida is ideal for those who want to relax and get to know this sleepy Italian island. Here are the top 10 things to do on Procida.
Meander Around Marina Grande
Your ferry to Procida will arrive at picturesque Marina Grande, known for its colorful houses stacked one next to the other, and its picturesque harbor. This is the commercial heart of the island, and it's here that you'll find the largest concentration of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops, many along busy Via Roma. Be sure to duck into the 18th-century Church of Santa Maria della Pieta, the fisherman's church, known for its sunny yellow facade, elaborate marble altars and its painted dome.
Bask on a Volcanic Beach
The waters surrounding the Bay of Naples islands and the Amalfi Coast are justly famous for their turquoise clarity. Procida is no exception—its handful of beaches are lapped with clear, shallow waters. Chiaiolella is known for its dark, volcanic sand and striking rock formations. The beaches of Pozzo Vecchio and Punto Ottima are rocky, but sit in a beautiful sheltered cove. Ciraccio Beach has one of the longest sandy stretches on the island.
Climb Up to Terra Murata
You can't miss Terra Murata. Built on a high point of land that looms over Marina Grande, the walled, fortress-like village is one of the first things you'll see as you approach Procida. Terra Murata is reached via a steep road—most visitors choose to walk it or it's accessible by bus or taxi—but the reward is sweeping bay views and the chance to explore narrow 16th-century streets lined with houses built into the rock face. Visit La Casa di Graziella, a civic museum that recreates a Terra Murata home of the 1800s.
Sample Seafood at Marina Chiaiolella
Another commercial center on the island, the fishing village of Marina Chiaiolella is known for its Arab-influenced architecture and its seafront promenade lined with pastel-colored houses. This is a fine place to sample Procida's abundance of fresh local seafood. Find a table right on the busy harbor, and watch the fishing boats come and go. Island specialties include stuffed calamari, salt-crusted luvero fish, and pasta with sea urchin. Lemons abound on Procida so if you stay for dessert, look for anything made with lemon.
Find the Entrance to Casale Vascello
Procida was long a strategic prize in the Bay of Naples, and it fended off its share of attacks from invading forces, including the Saracens of the 16th century. As the coastline was increasingly vulnerable, the people of Procida moved inland and upland and built their homes clustered together so that the only entrances were via interior courtyards. Near Terra Murata, Casale Vascello is an example of defensive domestic architecture. The picturesque village is still inhabited and still has just two entrances, which could have been closed off in the event of an attack.
Take the Tiny Bridge to Vivara
At the southwest tip of Procida, at the end of Via Santa Margherita (near Chiaiolella Beach), a narrow, 100-meter footbridge connects Procida to another world: the nature reserve islet of Vivara. Although archaeological evidence suggests Vivara was inhabited as far back as the Bronze Age, today it's been overtaken by Mediterranean scrub and birdlife. A few hiking trails traverse the island, but otherwise, there are no facilities—just great views of the surrounding sea and islands, plus occasional dolphin and whale spotting. You can't help but notice Vivara's half-moon shape; it's part of an ancient volcanic crater. The other half sunk into the sea long ago.
Wander an Abandoned Prison at Palazzo D'Avalos
Palazzo D'Avalos is part of Terra Murata, but merits its own listing. First built as a palace for a cardinal, it later became a hunting retreat for the Bourbon kings, then a military academy, and from the 1800s up to 1988, it was the site of a prison. Today, the site contains an archaeological museum, a garden, and an art gallery. You can peek into the abandoned cells for a glimpse of history.
Visit Famous Film Sites
Film fans may already know that Procida served as the setting for Il Postino, the award-winning 1994 comedy-drama. It also served as the fictional village of Mongibello in the creepy thriller "The Talented Mr. Ripley," and it even appeared briefly in the classic costume drama, "Cleopatra," with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Look for filming locations in Marna di Corricella (La Taverna del Postino, Via San Rocco, and Piazza dei Martiri). Beach scenes from Il Postino were filmed at Spiaggia di Pozzo Vecchio.
Catch an Epic Sunset
Mediterranean seaside towns positively glow at sunset when the sun casts a palette of warm colors on pastel buildings, and streetlights start to twinkle. Find a high point on the island, preferably with a sea and village view, and watch the evening spectacular. Favorite sunset spots include Marina Corricella, either at the waterside or closer to the top of the town, and Marina Chiaiolella from the beach or overlooking the marina.
Paddle Around Procida
Taking to the waters around Procida affords a chance to see the island from a different perspective, as well as take in hidden coves and cliffs not visible from land. ASD Kayak Procida, based in Marina Di Chiaiolella, organizes guided paddling tours with several different itineraries, from natural to cultural.