Procida is a tiny island in the Gulf of Naples, Southern Italy.
It’s the smallest and least known of the Naples archipelago, to which belong Capri and Ischia too.
Thanks to the lack of tourist crowd and to its peculiar characteristics, i.e. the gardens that in the right seasons are full of flowers, lemons and oranges, Procida offers many interesting photo opportunities.
The best time to visit Procida is mid Spring or Autumn, when we have better light and less crowd.
In spring we’ll also take advantage of the blossoming gardens, while the warm autumn tones are a delight for the photographer.
Procida is small, such a small island that we can visit it by walking in just one day.
But if we want to have enough time, much better to plan to spend a whole weekend there. We’ll take advantage of more blue and golden hours and we’ll have more time to discover the hidden corners of the island.
What gear to carry? Well, think in advance that you’ll walk a lot, then try to be as light as possible. A big tele lens will be probably useless, unless you want to take shots of the birds of the island. A medium tele and a wide angle will be enough. Don’t forget a polarizer and your preferred filters. A tripod is always a must.
To get to Procida you’ll take a ferry either from Naples or from Pozzuoli. Anyway, you’ll arrive at the main harbour and you’ll immediately notice the soft colours of the buildings.
A good time to photograph here is dawn, when the water is absolutely motionless and reflects the buildings in the soft light of early morning. At sunset the light is also beautiful, but usually there’s a strong Mistral wind that creates ripples in the water.
During the rest of the day the light is harsh and the buildings are against the sun or in the shade.
You’ll notice a church (Santa Maria della Pietà) on the edge of the wharf, directly on the sea. It’s typical of the islands of this area; churches are built overlooking directly the sea, to protect all fishermen and sailors. But there is another reason: the belfry and the massive buildings can be viewed from long distance and with rough sea and can be a guide for sailors in the storm.
From the church we can climb the hill of Terra Murata, the walled, medieval borough of the island and original urban centre of the island, where the locals used to live to find shelter against the Saracenic incursions.
You’ll enter Terra Murata from Porta di Ferro (Iron Gate) that’s the only entrance in the massive walls. Follow the winding lanes and you’ll immediately notice a huge building, that’s the former prison. That was open 1988 and now is abandoned.
Take a look at the giant windows with the iron bars overlooking directly the sea and a majestic landscape: almost an extra punishment for the convicts, to look constantly at this beauty and without enjoying it.
Now it’s time to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets of Terra Murata, full of arches, doors, stairs, windows, hidden corners. This is the typical spontaneous architecture of Procida.
Almost at the top of the hill there is the Santa Margherita Monastery, San Michele Abbey and a classical building that once was an orphanage for girls. Just behind the corner, at the end of Via Borgo there is one of the most beautiful viewpoint of the island: you’ll see Naples and it’s gulf with Vesuvius in background.
There is only one way in and out Terra Murata. You’ll follow back your footsteps and once out through the Porta di Ferro stop at the terrace you see ahead: the Belvedere dei due cannoni (Two Guns Viewpoint). From there you’ll see two capes, Punta Solchiaro and Punta Pizzaco, a long beach of black volcanic sand and the polychrome magic of Marina della Corricella, old fishermen’s village, with multicolour buildings standing between the sea and the hillside. On top, the yellow Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Yellow, pink, green, azure, red: the peculiar colors of the houses are there not only for aesthetical reasons. Once, the sailors who came back from long marine journeys were able to recognize their houses from its color.
Now let’s follow Gradinata del Pennino a stairway that will lead us in another world, among buildings painted in pale colours, archways and exterior staircases. Don’t be afraid of getting lost, follow the path you like, sooner or later you’ll arrive at the wharf, where fishing boats of every size are docked.
Marina della Corricella is a great source of photographic opportunities: multicolour buildings, arches, balconies, stairs, windows, shadows, colors, boats, fishing nets, fishermen at work repairing hulls and gears.
When we’ll have enough of all that (beware! it can take days or weeks to get to this point!) we can continue our walk, with the seaside on our left hand side: we’ll pass through seventeenth-century villas with beautiful gardens full of lemons, oranges, tangerines and flowers, other viewpoints and then we’ll leave the town and continue in the countryland to Punta Pizzaco and Punta Solchiaro. At the end of this walk we’ll be again at sea level at Chiaiolella, beautiful natural harbour that now hosts a Marina. Here the village is less scenic than Marina della Corricella but offers anyway nice photo opportunities, among them a pink church and a black volcanic beach overlooking the tiny Vivara island, protected area and bird’s haven.
From here to the next viewpoint there is a long walk and if we feel tired we can easily hop on a bus and take a 10 minutes ride until our next destination: Via Faro, flanked by beautiful buldings, will lead us to another viewpoint, with the ruins of the old lighthouse below us directly against the blue sea.
We are close to the main harbour now, where our ferry is waiting for us. But if we’re not tired and we have some spare time we can wander aimlessly in the old town looking for new photographic opportunities that will undoubtedly show up.
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