Part 1 is available here
The Island by the sea… (day 2)
On Saturday morning we went boating. Some friends who had learned we were taking Mapi and Vito there for the first time invited us on their boat for a tour of the island. That’s the way they are, that’s natural in the south: it’s a pleasure to have guests, to show them our places, to make them feel at home, in a simple and informal way. There is also another aspect: on the island you are never anonymous. Everyone knows which family you belong to, and your behaviors contribute to the family’s reputation; many people know what you are doing and get involved as they can. If it was for Procida alone there was no need for Facebook.
It was a beautiful morning. We made the complete tour of the island by the sea in about 4 hours, sailing by the bays that are mostly leftovers of volcanic cones, showing all the “special places”: Vivara, Ciraccio, the “spiaggia del cimitero” (Cemetery beach, a beautiful little beach on top of which there is the island cemetery, and were some sequences of the movie “Il Postino” were shot), punta Faro, the “Si Lorenza” (a nice spot in the Marina Grande bay where we stopped for a bath), the “Carcere” (the prison, an old dismissed fortress/prison on the island), the Chiaia bay with the Corricella port, Solchiaro, and back to the Chiaiolella small marina where we had left from.
A little bit of culture… (day 2)
In the afternoon (which starts around 3pm) we took a guided tour of the St. Michael Abbey. It is the main church of the island, and St. Michael is the patron saint of the island. Below the main church there are a couple of unexpected levels, dug in the rock, with several interesting rooms. The church itself dates back to the XI century, with several later changes like the wooded ceiling from XIV century. There are many special aspects to this small church, like the 17 altars and the self-portrait of an inmate… I’ll leave the details to the live visit.
Later we went visiting a painter exhibit. This man is from Procida; like many others he earned his life sailing, then he settled in Australia where he started painting the atmospheres of his home island. His paintings were pretty successful. Now he spends a few months here and a few there. We had noticed a couple of very nice paintings, that expressed the spirit of the island with beautiful light colors and sea subjects. A very original style. Well, the southern spirit is not always very efficient and business oriented: it took three attempts to finally find it open at dinner time, and some iterations to find out that the most beautiful paintings were not on sale because “the maestro wants to keep them to himself”. What to say… that’s part of the spirit; you have to take it the way it is and blend in.
…without forgetting the food culture… (day 2)
There is a restaurant I hardy miss when I go there, half way down to the Corricella, with a nice terrace where you can enjoy the night breeze and the praesepe-like view of the village. The cuisine is typical home style, with limited but very valuable selection of dishes mostly fish-based. They did not fail me 🙂
Another things not to miss in Procida is the “granita di limone”. It’s true that the main resource of the island is the sea and the related activities, but there is also some excellent farm produce, including very large and tasty lemons. A couple of bars are used to make an excellent icy drink with them. One of them was already famous for this when I was a child, and that’s a while ago…
In the sweet department, the “Lingua” is a typical pastry, filled with cream, delightful and worth trying, it is great for breakfast with cappuccino.
Anyhow the special thing is the fish, of course. Every day, around 4pm, the “paranze” (a typical fishing boat) come back with their catch of the day, unload it and take it to the small shop on the other side of the road where you can buy it. It is all local fish, caught a few hours earlier, who has traveled maybe 50 miles on the boat and 20 feet on the road. The only fresher option is to go fish yourself and eat on the boat!
Laying down on the beach… (day 3)
Sunday was devoted to the beach. We went to the beach in the Marina Grande bay. We all had brought with us our scuba diving toys. Due to volcanic origin all beaches in Procida have mid-sized dark sand, and the sea becomes relatively deep (a few meters) pretty quickly. This beach is peculiar with its bank of Posidonia. The bank used to be larger, but the increased traffic of boats and their anchors have reduced it. It only grows in pristine waters, so its presence is very comforting. In addition to that it is very entertaining: it hosts plenty of fishes. Vito and I had fun for hours with our scuba masks. We managed to catch some sea urchins, a delicatessen that must be eaten on the spot! I felt some 30 years younger.
Back to real life… (day 3)
2pm, time to head back. We had a light lunch at the small restaurant by the beach, again delicious home-style cuisine, and I mean southern Italy home-style… Clouds where quickly assembling in the sky for the expected afternoon showers, making us less regretful to leave.
Here is my 1 phrase summary. We were lucky: we had a perfect week-end, with the typical mid-September warm sun, blue sky, family relaxed environment, the smell of the sea, family, good food, good friends. Time to start planing the next one to kick nostalgia away. 🙂