We were enjoying the everyday pleasures of island life and swimming in the warm waters of Chiaia beach so much, that it was only on our 4th day that we made it to the most photographed part of Procida, Marina Corricella. It’s kind of funny that while the photo of Corricella can be seen quite often, used on the cover of Italian guide books or to advertise Italian language courses, Procida is still a well-kept secret, most people outside of Italy have no idea where it is. Unlike its sister islands in the Bay of Naples, glamorous Capri and green Ischia, Procida is still under the radar of most tourists.
Procida is tiny, but densely populated, so it basically doesn’t have space for big hotels. Most houses are private homes, you can often see old ladies hanging clothes on their balconies. Its narrow roads are not suitable for tour groups travelling around by bus. These factors – luckily – keep mass tourism at bay.
Corricella, the pedestrian only fishing village of Procida, is the jewel of the island. You can get the best view of Corricella from Terra Murata. With its colourful houses painted with pastel hues of yellow, pink, white, blue and green, tiny fishing boats and the sea all around, it looks like a wonderful painting. However, Corricella wasn’t always so colourful. It used to have grey-brown colours, and with its cave-like houses similar to Matera as you can still see it today.
From Terra Murata, there are several ways to get down to Corricella. As you start walking down the road, you will get to the Piazza dei Martiri (Square of the Martyrs), an amazing panorama terrace. This piazza is a central point in the Marina Grande, Terra Murata and Marina Corricella triangle.
You can visit the 17th-century baroque Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, then grab a caffè at the cute bar and just sit around for a while. In the past the square was the location of a tragic event: 16 Procidan citizens were hanged here because they were loyal to the Neapolitan Republic.
Keep strolling down on Via S. Rocco and don’t forget to look back. It’s such a picturesque, colourful street, with scooters parked in front of the houses, laundry drying in the sun, and the whole view dominated by the dome of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Then when you reach the icecream shop at the corner, selling delicious icecream and lemon granita, just take the small pedestrian road to the left, taking you down to Corricalla.
Another nice way to get from Terra Murata to Corricella is to take the flight of steep steps down, before reaching the Piazza dei Martiri. From here you will get nice side views of Corricella. Of course there are also other ways, other hidden stairways to get down there, but I leave you the joy of discovery with that.
Once in Marina Corricella, you can just walk around or sit in one of the bars and restaurants, and enjoy watching idylicc island life. There are no cars here, but the people of Corricella probably all have a boat. It’s one of the oldest parts of Procida, a traditional fishing village dating back to the 17th century, with living traditions even today.
You should visit Corricella in different times of the day. Early morning you will see fishermen mending their fishing nets. During the day lights are best on the houses. Late afternoon, just before the blue hour, the lights on Terra Murata paint the old walls orange. Then at sunset time, you should be up at Terra Murata again, and watch the sun disappear behind Corricella. Night lights are also wonderful, perfect place for a romantic dinner. While enjoying your meal and drinks, you can watch fishermen getting ready for their night shift, waiting for the zaccalea boats.
It’s not an easy life, with surely never enough sleep. Corricella was for centuries the poorest part of the island. The people here had fish, but nothing more, no land, so they had to buy fruits and vegetables from the farmers of Procida or Ischia. They had wells in the houses, but drinking water arrived by boat twice a week. Corricella had a very closed community, and people from other part of the island rarely came here.
While fishing traditions are still alive, and inhabitants managed to sustain the slow rhythm of daily life, today Corricella is the most visited part of the island. Day trippers are sitting in the restaurants, and several holiday homes are hiding behind the faded paintwork, you can rent them. It’s also the most expensive part, you need to spend hundreds of thousands of euros to own a property here.
Corricella is very popular among travellers who enjoy photography. The village has a very interesting mediterranean architecture, houses built upon houses, with very deep outside staircases, arches, small windows and narrow alleyways. The port is full of fishing boats of all colours, and fishing nets are piled up by the water. Corricella has an old fishing village charm that’s impossible not to love.