A serrated hunk of volcanic rock that’s the smallest (population 10,000) and nearest island to Naples, Procida has managed to fend off the kind of tourist numbers that have flooded into Capri and Ischia. It lacks the spectacle, or variety, of both islands, though it compensates with extra room and extra peace.
The island’s main town, MARINA GRANDE, where you arrive by ferry, is a slightly run-down but picturesque conglomeration of tall pastel-painted houses rising from the waterfront to a network of steep streets winding up to the fortified tip of the island – the so-called Terra Murata. Part of this was once given over to a rather forbidding prison, now abandoned, but it’s worth walking up anyway to see the abbey church of San Michele, whose domes are decorated with a stirring painting by Giordano of St Michael beating back the Turks from Procida’s shore. The views, too, from the nearby belvedere are among the region’s best, taking in the whole of the Bay of Naples.
For the rest, Procida’s appeal lies in its opportunities to swim and eat in relative peace. There are beaches in Marina Grande itself, on the far side of the jetty, and, in the opposite direction, beyond the fishing harbour, though both are fairly grubby. Similarly, Spiaggia Chiaia, just beyond the fishing harbour of nearby Coricella, is a reasonable bathing beach but isn’t very large and can get crowded. On the whole, if you want to swim you’re better off making the fifteen-minute bus journey from Marina Grande to CHIAIOLELLA, where there’s a handful of bars and restaurants around a pleasant, almost circular bay and a long stretch of sandy beach that is the island’s best.