On a warm day in October, me and my friend Christa, who was visiting Ischia, decided to spend the day in Procida. Neither of us had any idea of what we wanted to do or see there, so we just went and wandered the streets.
Procida is just a 10 minute ferry ride from Ischia. It’s much smaller than Ischia with a population of about 10,000 residents (Ischia has about 70,000 full-time residents). Ferries run quite frequently between the two islands so it’s quite easy to make it a day trip. You may already know it if you’ve seen the films Il Postino and The Talented Mister Ripley as many scenes were filmed there. If you haven’t already, check out the novel Arturo’s Island by Elsa Morante, it was recently re-issued with a new translation by Ann Goldstein, the translator of the novels of Elena Ferrante.
The first thing that struck me as disembarked at the port was how peaceful it was. That’s because only residents are allowed to drive on the island, so there was very little traffic. We wanted to cut through the island to the other side of the island, vaguely wanting to find the famously colourful Marina Coricella. We saw a street sign with an arrow pointing towards a ‘percorso consigliato pedonale’ – a recommended walking route. Score!
While Ischia after the war re-invented itself as a tourist destination, Procida maintained its fishing industry and sleepy tourist destination vibe. I loved the signage around Procida. Its doorways, gardens and lemon orchards were enchanting.
Along the way, I was on the lookout for a pastry that you can only find in Procida called ‘la lingua di bue’. It’s a puff pastry dough filled with a lemon cream. The lemons grown on the island of Procida are quite special, thanks to the perfect climate conditions. The lemons in Procida are large and sweet and you can eat the whole thing if you’re inclined, skin, pith and pulp. You can find all sorts of lemon-infused products such as liquors, creams, ice cream, drinks and a delicious lemon salad. (Check out Katie Parla’s recipe for insalata di limone (lemon salad) that comes from the island).
I found one from a pastry shop that proudly had them on display in the street. I bought two, one for me and Christa, so we could have them once we reached Marina Coricella.
Holy cow, Marina Coricella, the oldest fisherman village, was just as beautiful in person as in all the photographs. Steps lead down from the road into the village where it was so quiet, away from any traffic. Looming above is the Terra Murata, the fortified village that once protected the islanders from the continuous pirate raids during the 14 and 1500s.
We walked among the complex of colourful buildings, domes, arches, windows and staircases and sat on a wall so we could try the lingua di bue. It was delicious!
This day was only a taster of all the things I can do in Procida. I can’t wait to go back to visit the museums and hopefully see some lemon groves.