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A Crumbling Beauty

Photo: The colourful port of Procida 
By Amanda Barnes

Procida is a quaint and colourful island with lots of character. The narrow, winding walled streets of the town cover the expanse of the island and are quietly surrounded by the coastline, which is cloaked in volcanic black sand. The island is very small and can easily be walked around in three or four hours, rendering the bus service pointless if it weren’t for the sheer entertainment factor of watching the adventurous drivers squeeze their long buses through the tightest of corners! If the bus is too much of a white-knuckle ride for you with all the cobbled streets and tight corners, then the rackety rickshaws (or ‘micro taxi’s' as the drivers proudly advertise) are a fun alternative.

Procida is a unique island with crumbling beauty and it is clear to see why the faded colour washed houses lined on every street were chosen as a location for 'The Talented Mr Ripley' film. The interior streets, which are formed by high walls, either side reassert the secret nature of this island; everything is hidden from sight behind the high walls, adding to the beauty and mystery of Procida. On Monday evenings a stroll down Via VI Novembre is especially memorable as the sound of the local gospel choir rehearsing in the school drifts over the streets.

Although usually a sleepy island, in the summer the beaches of Procida are filled with Italian families and couples, although despite its popularity Procida remains an authentically Italian isle with comparatively few foreign tourists. There are a few hotels on the island, but the most popular accommodation are the campsites which have good facilities and lots of mosquitoes!

The unpretentious port town is a picture of unconventional beauty with gently rocking battered fishing boats; sun bleached pastel coloured houses, laundry lines fluttering in the breeze and enchanting winding streets. The shopping here is limited but the few shops there are are an eclectic and interesting mix. Worth a mention are the hardware stores which compensate for the lack of shops by squeezing four into one — in these Aladdin's cave style shops you can buy anything from collectors items to household dusters! There are quite a few good seafood restaurants and pizzerias by the port, however if you do have a kitchen and like culinary experimentation than the fish markets offer a wide variety of cheap fish and sea creatures to play with. Procida also homes a couple charming bakeries, but they can be quite hard to find — following the smell of fresh bread is not always the best method of navigation through a maze of streets! Although the warm pastry reward of finding them is delicious and I recommend the bizarre sausage and chips foccacia bread, surprisingly good!

If you are an avid bird watcher (or just fancy an afternoon out) the nature reserve on the north western tip of the island, which is only accessible by Foot Bridge, is worth a wander. There are many things to visit on the island with some beautiful churches and piazzas; however the best way to spend your time is to while it away getting lost in the labyrinth that is Procida!


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