While some long staircases and uphill streets might make you short of breath, the island of Procida is actually very flat, with the highest peak only 91 meters above sea level. That’s where the fortified village of Terra Murata was built. It’s the oldest settlement of Procida, a historical and cultural center, still inhabited. You can walk up there, but if you don’t like going uphill, just take bus C2 from Marina Grande.
In my opinion Terra Murata is not the nicest part of Procida, but you can’t miss it as it offers absolutely stunning views. There are several viewpoints: on a clear day you can see the entire Bay of Naples, dominated by Vesuvius, and the contours of the Sorrento Peninsula and the island of Capri. Of course you can also admire Procida itself and take the perfect photo of Corricella that will make all your neighbours jealous.
Terra Murata has always had a strategic position. Today we might worry about getting the perfect lights for our photos, but only a few hundred years ago the citizens of Procida had more important issues to worry about. The island was often under attack by Saracen pirates and other enemies, so the residents, who had previously lived scattered around the island, all moved to this small area. In the 16th century the d’Avalos family decided to build walls all around to protect the Procidani, hence the name Terra Murata.
Besides enjoying the view, you should take some time to wander around the colourful, narrow streets.
You can visit the 16th-century Abbey of San Michele, which used to have a very important role in the life of Procidani. Besides looking at the wonderful artwork you can visit the library, where the oldest book is almost 500 years old. There is also an exhibition of ancient nativity scenes. Make sure you go out to the terrace if possible.
Further down towards Corricella you’ll find the cute Church of Santa Margherita Nuova, which has an amazing panorama terrace as well. I loved the painted benches there.
The most important building is the Palazzo d’Avalos dating back to 1554. First it was a royal palace, but after the glamorous years a much darker era began. From 1830 the building was used as a prison, which closed only in 1988. Interesting to imagine that while luxury yachts were docking at nearby Capri, Procida’s fortress with its fantastic views was home to some dangerous criminals. The palazzo is totally abandoned and neglected, which is a shame, but you can still visit it joining guided tours. You need to book at least one day in advance. Don’t expect too much, but the building has a special atmosphere, time stopped here 30 years ago. There are plans for renovation but funds are missing.
If you are into museums and history, and would like to find out more about local life, you should visit the Casa di Graziella, in the Palazzo della Cultura. The exhibition of a typical Procidan home with furniture, everyday items and clothing helps you imagine 19th-century Procidan life. Reservation is required.