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Procida a heavenly little piece of rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea

Marina di Corricella, island of Procida

Marina di Corricella, island of Procida

Colorful fishing nets, Marina di Corricella, Island of Procida Italy

Colorful fishing nets, Marina di Corricella

Procida a heavenly little piece of rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea decorated with ancient buildings that would make a great Crayola Crayon advertisement. It is the smallest island in the Bay of Naples and despite its location just a 40 minute hydrofoil ride from Naples it receives a fraction of foreign visitors as the neighboring islands of Capri and Ischia. Procida seems to want to keep its secret to itself, although it’s popular with the residents of Napoli looking for a summer escape from the steaming, chaotic city.

Marina di Corricella is possibly the most photogenic piece of developed landscape I have ever photographed. While researching where to photograph Naples, this island incessantly came up in my research. Because of photos on Google, I had to visit and get some of my own. As I write I wish I were again dining at La Gorgonia on another feast of pasta and clams or sipping some vino in front of Bar Graziella.

Sunset, Marina Grand, Island of Procida

Sunset, Marina Grand, Island of Procida

Procida is a low-key, friendly alternative to its more glamorous nearby islands with prices that won’t gouge you. It’s not as popular as the other islands, but if you live here, that’s a good thing. Often, overlooked for glitzier neighbors Capri and Positano, tiny Procida is the kind of Mediterranean escape that is increasingly hard to find.

Mercifully off the mass-tourist radar, it is refreshingly real. Despite it’s small size the island is home to 11,000 people a fact that has helped keep mass tourism at bay. I did say heavenly; that does ignore the housing density I’d guess at 100%, Procida is crowded with bicycles, scooters, and three wheeled taxis. Tiny Procida simply does not have the room to accommodate large-scale hotels or tour groups. Even in Marina Grande, the main harbor, most of the waterfront buildings that face the ferries coming from Capri and Naples are private.

Stormy Sky, Marina di Corricella, Island of Procida Italy

Stormy Sky, Marina di Corricella, Island of Procida Italy

It seems as though every resident in Procida has a boat, whether a fishing boat, or the cool looking old and colorful wooden rowboat, their connection to the sea dates from the island’s first settlers. It is thought that Procida was inhabited by the seafaring Mycenaeans as early as 1600BC, many have followed.

Along the waterfront of Marina di Corricella there are no cars, scooters, or anything associated with a road because there isn’t one. A long flight of stairs separates the harbor from the road on the hill above. From the buildings to the boats is nothing but cobblestone, cafes and the hodgepodge of fisherman storage, nets, floats and rope. It was so pleasant to have a vehicle free waterfront for this photographer. This is where I chose to rent an apartment.

Stairway to the harbor, Procida Italy

Stairway to the harbor, Procida Italy

After being dropped by the taxi at the top of the hill and the cabby pointing down the stairs, I dutifully descended and hoped. Apartments aren’t marked well and my Italian didn’t extend beyond Grazie; hence, all but useless. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs the harbor appeared. Looking lost the owner of café La Gorgonia stepped forward to help.   I showed him my reservation at which time he abandoned his café and showed my new digs. I thanked him profusely and for a short time became his best customer.

The architecture of Procida has a Greek origin. In fact, the history of Procida is concentrated first on the medieval village “Terra Murata. ” This old fortified village at Procida’s highest point. Visitors can see all the way to Mount Vesuvius on a clear day. Mount Vesuvius though was the least of the island’s threats: starting in the ninth Century, raids by Saracenic pirates happened so frequently that Procida’s residents, formerly scattered across the island, clustered on fortified peak. The pirates might be gone, but their legacy lives on, as anywhere on the northern Mediterranean you never have to look very far to find a defensive embattlement to protect the population from centuries of incessant marauding pirate raids.

This picturesque hunk of rock and building block, has served as the set for numerous films, such as The “Postman” by Massimo Troisi, and some scenes in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” were shot on Corricella. If I were a location scout it would be a favorite of mine.

Citadel over Marina di Corricella on the island of Procida Italy

Citadel over Marina di Corricella on the island of Procida Italy

You can only move inside the village using stairways and snaking passages hidden among the houses. Some of these passages are also large enough for small vehicles. Along the Marina, there are a few scattered restaurants that serve tasteful local cuisine and high quality seafood. The settlement has obvious tourist appeal owed to the way everything is set up from the painted houses and boats to the eateries, and bars scattered around the waterfront. There are waterfront restaurants and cafes, but there aren’t as many gift shops hawking all types of souvenirs. It’s a more low-key affair and a great place to go if you just want to blend in with the local residents.

Spending time on the bay front at Marina Corricella or Marina Grande is a pleasant assault on the senses because of the juxtaposition of hustle bustle, population density, and the peace of the bay, and its cliffs blanketed with pastel bathed beauty. The colorful Marina di Corricella had such a wealth of compositions I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to return with my  photo tour group.

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