Ahhhh Procida, the small island (just four kilometers squared) off the coast of Naples. Mostly notable because: it’s not Capri, (that seemed to be where most other travellers were headed) which is why we were not, most travellers will head south west to continue their tour of the coast of Amalfi.
After spending four days on the coast of Amalfi, Moo and I were ready to be as far away from the masses as possible. I know I’ve been harping on about ‘people’ for many a week now, but believe me, the more of others we encountered, the worse our experience. We were so pleased we eventually found Lo Scoglio meaning ‘the rock’ (the island’s quaint nickname).
I have to thank the author Penelope Green for writing about this place, after reading her book Girl By Sea, it lead me to Procida. She’s an Aussie who moved to Italy – the land literally called for her, for reasons she couldn’t explain – and after working assiduously in journalism in Naples, she moved to Procida for a much needed sea change. The book details her experience moving to the island where she learns to:
Change the rhythm of your life. Work less, earn less, consume less.
I can hear you now… what, where, how?
After farewelling our friends in Naples, we made our way to the ferry terminal and boarded the ‘slow’ ferry (one hour) direct to Procida. On arrival, I felt like we’d gone back in time, it had all the charm of the Amalfi without the endless business.
We found the way to our Airbnb and were rewarded with ragu stuffed bread rolls on arrival. I knew we were going to like this place already. The view from the window was enough to make me not want to leave (pictured at the end of the post, keep reading!)
By this point in the day (four in the afternoon) it was most certainly aperitivi time. We made our way back to the harbour in search of a suitable watering hole. I guess after reading so much about Bar Capriccio in Girl By Sea, it was an easy decision of where to start (Bar Capriccio is literally the first bar you see when you get off a boat and the last one you see when you get on one.)
Here, I sit in glee, we watch the world go by as fishmongers wash down their shop fronts, children kick a soccer ball to each other and the islands more industrious folk disembark the ferry from Naples looking in need of a beer themselves after a day of ‘business’.
For dinner, it was off to Fammivento. You can’t come to an island in the Bay of Naples, Italy and not fill your face with the catch of the day. Other than being famous for their naval school and ship building, the island has survived from the success of the fishing industry for years, so we trust they know what’s what when it comes to the plate. And they so do.
It appears that eggplant is in season (you see, everything in Italy is seasonal, you’ll rarely find fruit and vegetables for sale if they’re not) which means they’re extra flavoursome. We share a grilled eggplant side dish, a paccheri pasta with zucchini and prawns, and a grilled mixed fish of the day, but what really takes my fancy is the caprese dessert (a flourless chocolate torte, made with almond meal). It was mouth watering.
The walk back to our airbnb worked as a better digestive than any limoncello could, after being in Italy for almost two months, I feel like I waddle rather than walk these days. But the pasta, you see, it is incredible.
The next morning, we enjoyed our breakfast at base (our host provided local pastries, coffee and bread rolls) before walking to the end of our street to find this hidden local swimming and snorkelling haven aka: Punta di Pioppeto. The entry and exit was a little dicey (now we understand fully why everyone wears those rubber reef shoes), but once we were in – it was magical. The water is crystal clear, lovely and warm and best of all, there are just four of us basking in the morning sun and sea.
From here, we decided to walk to the other side of the island, not without Moo wasting two hours trying to get his haircut (note to self: no-one is in a rush here, it is truly island time) he left, fed up, and long haired.
I was desperate to keep finding the hidden swimming spots on the island and once again have Penny to thank for this one called Seno del Carbogno. I made my way here (not without difficulty, finding the right path) whilst waiting for Moo. The path along the way was literally a moveable feast. I passed a fig tree, an olive tree, blackberry trees and without uncertainty there was a lemon tree too (if there were a word for the land, it would be citrus, there are lemons everywhere – as big as your head!)
Before too long, it was too hot and our stomachs were ever so slightly empty. We walked to find lunch along the Corricella marina, where we found Fuego restaurant. We shared a mezzi paccheri with swordfish, aubergines, cherry tomatoes and mint and the stuffed ravioli with prawns (below). I think you can guess how it went… no? want me to explain? Okay! It was pure (kid in a lollie shop) joy.
After lunch we walk on to Punta Lingua for an afternoon swim, but instead found ourselves beached on the sand – completely void of energy for swimming – preferring to read on the sand instead of wading in for our final dip of the day.
The Terra Murata (historical centre, pictured left) is the highest point on the island, towering over the Corricella marina – which seriously beat the views of Positano. No offense!
But you see, Procida is famous for reasons other than tourism, like so many islands in the neighbourhood: Aeolian and Bay of Naples, Procida was the backdrop for the famous film Il Postino ~ The Postman. About a exiled Cuban poet who arrives on the isles and befriends a local layabout to help with his mail. We’ve seen memorabilia everywhere, but it’s only fair, the film is terribly moving and poetic (obviously). But being here, you can’t help but go back in time and see the place as a romantic backdrop for budding film stars such as Massimo Troisi.
Thinking back now, I could wax lyrical about how thought provoking the island felt, but it was time for dinner and I must continue. There was no finer venue than La Pergola for our final night on the island. Top of my list was to try the locavore of pasta with stewed rabbit aka: bucanti with rabbit. Well to be exact it was a handmade fresh pasta, filled with ricotta and artichoke, served with red rabbit sauce (and the rabbit itself).
We shared that with mezzelune pasta filled with sea bass, shrimps and smashed potato, served with raw pesto made by rockets and almonds, with clams and balsamic tomatoes. Dessert was a homemade stewed apricot and chocolate concoction that will forever be known as: the best dessert I’ve ever had.
Our waiter hands Moo and I a lemon (the size of your head) to take with us, a gift from La Pergola, he shares his favourite recipe, which involved:
Removing the lemon rind, squeezing the juice and combining together, then dousing in olive oil with a sprinkle of red pepper and lastly adding freshly chopped mint. A perfectly balanced salad dressing, we are informed.
I rouse awake by the sound of an early alarm clock. Noooo! The dream is abruptly over. It’s time to go back to reality, to head back to the mainland and fly to England for a white wedding. We walk through the silent streets down to the ferry wharf and I have just enough time for a quick espresso from Bar Capriccio before our hydrofoil departs, along with a slice of apricot torte fresh from the oven (they must be in season, it tastes delectable).
I doubt it will be the last time I see the back of Procida and as the ferry creeps slowly from the wharf, I take one last look at the paradise that reminded me that not everywhere in southern Italy has been devoured by the masses – not yet anyway. Other than the traffic, I really think I could live there myself, and if the locavore was anything to go by, I most certainly will be back.
From here, we flew to Manchester for the weekend to celebrate a most important wedding. Don’t feel too sad for us, we flew straight back to Italy, but this time we were off to Sicily for two weeks. I’ll tell you all about it next week!
Until then xo