The pretty island of Procida near Naples has some of the most colorful houses in Italy, yet surprisingly it is still a hidden gem. After a couple of days of hectic city sightseeing, we hopped on the Naples Procida ferry and spent a relaxing day by the sea. Read on for our tips for a day trip from Naples to Procida and a great place to have lunch on a Procida beach.
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Who went: my two sons, now students, came with me to Southern Italy in September. You can read more about our Naples itinerary here. We took a day trip to Procida from Naples.
Naples to Procida
Procida lies 23 km off the coast of Naples. Ferries from Naples to Procida leave from two piers: Molo Beverello and Porta di Massa. You can also take a ferry to Procida from Pozzuoli, just north of Naples, or from the neighbouring island of Ischia.
We were staying in the Centro Storico in Naples, the ancient zone of the city which is handily situated for the port. So at 8am on a Wednesday morning we were able to leave our apartment and stroll down to Molo Beverello. The hydrofoil to Ischia departed at around 8.40 am and stopped at Procida just 40 minutes into the journey.
We travelled independently but you can also book a day trip to Procida from Naples, including lunch here
Crossing by Ferry Naples Procida
The regular hydrofoil and ferry service for Naples Procida is provided by SNAV and Caremar and you can find a timetable here. There are several crossings a day although the timetable alters according to the time of year. The crossing by hydrofoil isn’t super cheap, our tickets were around £30 each return; the car and passenger ferry which costs a little less has a longer journey time of one hour, ten minutes.
Things to do in Procida
Procida is the smallest island in the bay of Naples, not far from its more glitzy siblings, Capri and Ischia. These two are well-known on the tourist trail and up-scale Capri in particular is often packed with visitors, but in contrast Procida has a more low-key vibe. It’s a narrow little island less than two square miles in size and traditionally has supported fishermen and boat builders. Surprisingly it has a population of 10,000 although we didn’t see them on our weekday visit!
We planned our day trip to Procida with a specific agenda: beach and lunch. We wanted a relaxing day after whizzing around Naples so we didn’t explore the whole island. But we didn’t need to. The area around the port and the village of Corricella ticked all the boxes for us. Here’s what we did:
Walk from Marina Grande to Corricella
Stepping off the hydrofoil at Marina Grande felt like entering an earlier decade. After the hustle of Naples the harbour was peaceful, with just the bong of the church bells and a few men mending fishing nets in open doorways. We passed craft shops, bars and restaurants amongst a cluster of pastel coloured buildings. Our plan was to head straight to the fishing village of Corricella which is about 15 minutes walk from the harbour. So we took the path uphill from the lovely lemon-toned church of Santa Maria della Pieta. The roads are narrow, no pavements, and hardly any traffic apart from the occasional small car or scooter.
At the crossroads is another beautifully baroque church, Santa Maria Delle Grazie. It stands in the Martyr’s Square which has a tragic story that’s at odds with its peaceful surroundings. Twelve local people were executed there for joining the Neapolitan Republic in 1799.
Visit Terra Murata Procida
From the square we turned up towards Terra Murata, the fortified medieval stronghold at the highest and northern most tip of the island.
Terra Murata, meaning walled land, is a forbidding looking place from the sea. Just as well really, as this fortified enclave kept the people of Procida safe from marauders and pirates for centuries. More recently its palazzo became a prison, although it’s abandoned now. The buildings were closed when we visited but apparently it’s possible to book ahead to see the Abbey and museum. Walk to the end of the promontory for the best views of the Bay of Naples, glimmering silver under the sun.
It’s a bit of an uphill slog but it is also the place to catch the first glimpses of ridiculously pretty Corricella. First of all the harbour…..
Then a sideways glimpse of the tumble of pastel-coloured houses that surround the water’s edge.
Two cannon, left over from the turbulent times of the Neapolitan Republic, stand on a terrace that overlooks the bay and the village of Corricella. A handful of other people had found it and were posing for photos, but that was all. We practically had the place to ourselves.
And this view is the real reason you walk all the way up that hill:
You know when you think a place is never quite going to live up to the photos you’ve seen? Well in this case Procida did. Luckily we’d chosen a quiet sunny weekday to visit too.
Incidentally you can take a taxi to this viewpoint or even catch a bus. We didn’t see either but we were happy to walk anyway. Going back down the hill was much easier, especially as we were heading down into the picture book village of Corricella.
The little village of Corricella is a near-vertical warren of sorbet-coloured houses which pack tightly around the harbour. So tight in fact that there are no roads to the water’s edge just a zig-zag of scalatinelli (staircase streets), to get in and out of the village. It’s the oldest fishing village on the island, dating from the seventeenth century.
There are one or two small hotels and B & Bs in this part of Procida but otherwise it’s a sleepy little place with piles of fishing accoutrements heaped on the quay. The only clues to its popularity were occasional ice-cream signs and one or two sleek day boats moored alongside the fishing nets. This is where Neapolitans come for the weekend.
It wasn’t immediately obvious where to get a cup of coffee. Procida may be busy at the weekends but Corricella was resolutely off tourist duty on a September weekday. We found one little place open and sat with drinks and almond pastries alongside the fishing boats. We did spot a couple of likely looking restaurants for lunch but we had other plans. Our Pompeii tour guide and all-round Naples advisor had given us an excellent tip. So we headed off up the road in search of beaches. It didn’t take too long.
Chiaia beach Procida
We walked south out of town along a little road, passing iron balconies, grand gateposts, an old farmacia and swathes of bourgainvillea. At the first sign to ‘Spiaggia’ we turned down a pathway to an iron staircase that brought us down to a dark sand beach with a kiosk and beds and umbrellas to hire. But in the distance, further along the bay, we could see the beach restaurant we were searching for. Rather than go back up the steps again we paddled along the shallows and crossed some boulders to get there. Even in September the grey volcanic sand was really too hot to walk on.
Lunch on the beach in Procida
La Conchiglia looks like a vintage railway carriage from the distance. It has huge windows thrown open to the sea and a cluster of beach umbrellas and beds to hire.
We quickly booked a lunch table by a window then picked our beach beds and hopped in the sea. The water in the bay was calm and clear as crystal. Under the ripples the dark sand was sprinkled with tiny white fragments of shell.
After drying off in the sunshine we went in for lunch. Our window seats overlooked Chiaia beach with pastel’y Corricella and Terra Murata in the distance. A small flotilla was gathering offshore, a sure sign there’s a good lunch to be found in a bay. The restaurant’s boat was busily ferrying customers ashore.
Obviously we were going to have seafood. We ordered fritto misto then plates heaped with grilled squid, octopus and delicious chunks of ricciola. Dishes of chips, salad and a little painted jug of wine and we had the perfect ingredients for lunch with a view.
After lunch we settled back down on the beach beds again to read and swim. Top tip: as the sun moves round in the afternoon the cliffs at the back of Chiaia beach throw shade onto the sand. This was perfect for us and it saved hiring umbrellas. However we could have moved on to to one of Procida’s other beaches to catch the afternoon sun.
Around 4pm we strolled back the way we’d come to Marina Grande. We were so relaxed we nearly missed the hydrofoil home!
Here are some more tours of the beautiful islands in the Bay of Naples, departing from Naples and Sorrento, via Get Your Guide:
I’ve written about our Naples to Pompeii day trip here and our guided tour of the ancient city trapped in time.
Find out our tips on beating the queues and visiting Florence, Italy on a budget, here.
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