The Colourful Italian Island Set to Be the Next Capital of Culture

The tiny but colourful island of Procida, in the Bay of Naples
The tiny but colourful island of Procida, in the Bay of Naples | © agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

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The tiny island of Procida, in the Gulf of Naples, has been officially announced as Italy’s capital of culture in 2022. The prestigious accolade has previously been awarded to better-known recipients such as Palermo and Perugia, but the compelling case for Procida convinced the adjudicating committee to pick a less-discovered destination. Here’s more about this pretty island off the southwest coast of Italy.

Naples is fast gaining a reputation as a tourist hotspot, following years in the shadow of Rome and Milan. Its residents have long held the belief that the northern territories receive preferential treatment, even though Naples has many attractions to call its own. This rough-and-ready city has traditionally also been given short change by foreign visitors. Most of those who visit tend to head, either to Pompeii for the Roman ruins, or straight to the, admittedly beautiful, Amalfi coast, but now, there’s a destination closer to Naples that is about to become popular.

A short distance by boat from the city and renowned for its classic Mediterranean architecture, with houses painted in vibrant colours, Procida has approximately 10,000 inhabitants.

Colourful buildings epitomise the pretty fishing village of Marina di Corricella, Procida

Dario Franceschini, minister for cultural heritage and activities and tourism in Italy, mentioned how Procida presented a unique proposition as “la cultura non isola” or “culture doesn’t isolate”. This slogan plays into the fact that the outpost will be the first island designated an Italian capital of culture. Parma, which currently holds the title, was granted an extension given the global pandemic.

“It is a complicated year for everyone. We are trying to support cultural and tourist activities in every way and [this] designation of the Italian Capital of Culture for 2022 is a signal for the future, for recovery,” Franceschini said. “In 2022, we will be back to normal, and culture and tourism will be as important and strong as they were before the pandemic.”

Procida is the first island in Italy to receive capital of culture status

So, what makes Procida so special? The most obvious answer is the overwhelming explosion of colour you see when approaching the island from the sea. Sitting in the Gulf of Naples, near Capri and Ischia, Procida is the smallest of the three. Although not that well known, it has seen its fair share of glamorous visitors in the past, with Elizabeth Taylor filming Cleopatra here in 1963 and Hollywood producers returning for the sumptuous adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley (1999).

Vibrant fishermen’s houses line the Marina Grande

As with previous winners of the title, Procida officials are planning dozens of cultural events for the tenure. There’s already a wealth of local artistry to tap into, and an even greater history to tell: ancient Greek artefacts have been found on the island, and King Charles III of Spain turned Procida into his private game reserve in the mid-18th century. It makes even more sense, as whale-watching is still an option today, and dolphin colonies frequent the waters around the island.

We have a feeling that Procida won’t be a secret destination for much longer.

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