24 Hours in Procida, The Gulf of Naples’ Best-Kept Secret

24 Hours in Procida, The Gulf of Naples’ Best-Kept Secret

Unspoiled by tourism, Procida lacks the crowds of Capri yet rivals the beauty of Positano and Portofino. In a mere 24 hours, Italy’s off-the-radar island seduces us with la dolce vita

in the Gulf of Naples, the small islet of Procida is
often bypassed by those making a beeline for Capri.
Yet for in-the-know travellers, its pastel-coloured houses and
cobblestone streets offer respite from crowds of
more popular islands. It’s small wonder that Procida
was chosen as the romantic backdrop for the 1999 film of The
Talented Mr Ripley.

After an hour’s boat journey from Naples, I
disembark at Marina di Procida where my friend Nico – the founder
of Visit Procida – picks me up in a small Fiat,
naturally. The streets here are so narrow and steep that locals
drive with their side mirrors tucked in – if they haven’t been
knocked off already. You can’t be too precious about your car on
this island.

After a short ride, Nico leads me down a maze of steep steps to
the centre of Marina di Corricella, a picturesque fishing village
accessible only by foot. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s the
island’s oldest neighbourhood. Houses here cascade down the cliff,
forming a pastel-hued jigsaw puzzle that rivals the beauty of
Positano and Portofino. Fishermen, Nico tells me, paint the houses
in such vibrant colours so they can identify theirs from the

I’m staying in a refurbished traditional fisherman’s house
managed by Gioia Apartments, and I couldn’t ask for better views.
Looking out, I see the yellow dome of the Church of Santa Maria
Delle Grazie rising from behind colourful houses.

Dinner time. On my doorstep is a host of family-run restaurants,
each with menus offering a bounty of fresh local produce. As I tuck
into a plate of sea urchin spaghetti at Ristorante
Gorgonia, I know I chose a good one; each forkful marries the
essence of the sea and of Italy.

I’ve fallen hard for Procida. From the restaurant terrace, I
gaze out at fishing boats bobbing on the sea and feel a salty
breeze as the sun sets on the horizon. There are a few people out
and about, but the atmosphere is calm and peaceful. I breathe in
Procida’s authenticity, beauty and simplicity, and wonder to myself
how it has escaped most travellers’ radars.

In the morning, I rise to the sound of seagulls, church bells
and the chit-chat of the first fishermen heading out to the sea.
After a coffee on my rooftop terrace, I head out to explore the
island. My first stop is the hauntingly beautiful Palazzo d’Avalos,
the ruins of a 16th-century fortress which served as a royal palace
for the House of Bourbon before being converted to a prison in 1830
by Ferdinand II – it continued to function as such until 1988.
There’s no ticket office on site, so I meet my guide at the main
gates and she opens the prison just for me.

Later, as I walk down the hill on which the Palazzo d’Avalos
sits, I stumble upon what is considered the best panoramas of
Marina di Corricella. At the top of Via Salita Castello, I find two
rusty canons aiming, somewhat framing, a view that stretches across
the island. This is my Instagram shot.

When hunger strikes, Nico and I decide to visit Prodica’s oldest
restaurant: Crescenzo. Set in Marina Chiaiolella, it’s on the
opposite side of the island to Marina di Corricella – thankfully
barely more than a mile away, so our walk takes just 30

Every step is worth it. After a veritable feast, I sit on
Crescenzo’s terrace, my glass of wine backdropped by small fishing
boats mingling with luxurious yachts in the marina. Beyond that I
spy the natural reserve of Vivara, a separate island connected to
Procida by a long bridge. The reserve is privately owned with no
official public opening times, so you’ll need a little luck to be
able to visit it.

On the return to my apartment, I amble through the tangle of
streets, stopping at some shops on the way. A pair of earrings from
Hipster Customize, which customises vintage pieces, and a bottle of
Italian wine from Enoteca Borgo Antico seem like the perfect

With just a few hours left on the island, there’s no better way
than to say goodbye than by having a drink at Marina Grande, the
island’s main port. I meet Nico at Bar Capriccio, frequently chosen
by the locals for its wide selection of craft beer. The owner can
help you choose your poison and, with luck, he may have some of his
own homemade beer for you to try. Not into birra? It serves a great
Aperol spritz too.

As I head back to my apartment, aware that this is my last time
strolling around the alluring streets of Procida, I realise that
this island has truly won my heart. I was only here for a day, but
I felt as if I was lost in the pages of a beautiful novel.

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