Our plan for today was to visit the island of Procida. When I was originally planning the holiday a few months ago, my initial intention had been to visit the bigger and more famous island of Capri. There are plenty of ferries between Naples and Capri every day, but the prices seemed prohibitively expensive for a day trip. I then looked at the island of Ischia, which looks quite spectacular and is slightly cheaper to get to. While googling things to do on Ischia, however, I realised that the island had suffered an earthquake in August 2017, and there didn't seem to be much information online about how much damage had been done. We've already had some experience of how long it can take to repair earthquake damage in Italy when we visited L'Aquila in 2013, so I thought it might be prudent to give Ischia a miss. While I was reading up on it though I realised that there was a third island I'd never heard of - Procida - which was located off the coast of Ischia. The guidebook said that Procida was less touristy than the other islands, which sounded good. We decided to give it a go
Boats to Procida can be expensive if you travel on one of the fast hydrofoils, but by searching online I managed to find cheaper tickets for a slower ferry run by the regional state ferry company Caremar. I thought I'd been clever by booking the tickets online in advance, but actually it turned out that when you buy a ticket online, what you get sent is a document with a bar code that you need to exchange for an actual ticket at a ticket office in the port. Our first challenge this morning was to locate the relevant ticket office in the correct bit of the port.
We left the apartment with plenty of time to spare and began to make our way through the streets of Naples in the direction of the sea.
Once we got to the Castel Nuovo, we knew that we were in the right bit of town.
The situation with ports in Naples is a bit confusing. There is a main port called Molo Beverello and this is where the fast, passenger-only boats depart from. It's large, well-signposted and easy to find. Unfortunately, that wasn't where our ferry was departing from. We were due to leave from Porto di Massa, which I'd seen described online as being a few hundred metres from Beverello.
Bizarrely, there are absolutely no signs or directions of any sort to this port. We walked around the general port area in complete confusion for a while, trying to avoid being run over or captured by Italian taxi drivers who wanted to drive everyone to Pompeii. I was hoping we might see some sort of sign for the Caremar ferry company and least, but we didn't. In the end we had to admit defeat, and Tim went to ask a policeman for directions.
Luckily the policeman was very friendly and indicated that we should walk a few hundred metres to the right. We negotiated a path through a car park and found ourselves in something resembling a small industrial estate. This was possibly Porto di Massa, but we still couldn't see any signs for Caremar. There were ticket offices for other ferry companies though, so Tim went into one of these to ask for further directions, which seemed to imply that we just needed to keep walking to the right. We continued walking, but five minutes later, there was still no sign of the place we were looking for. Tim had to approach a second policeman (luckily Naples is full of police!) and eventually his directions led us to the furthest corner of the port, where we located the ticket office for Caremar. Phew!
We exchanged our online booking coupon for a proper ticket and then we were able to walk straight onto the ferry.
The ferry felt like it had seem slightly better days, with rather dirty windows that it wasn't possible to take photos out of. The journey from Naples to Procida is only an hour though, so it wasn't long before we were stepping out onto the island.
One of the things I had read about Procida is that it's an incredibly colourful island, and on first impressions that definitely seemed to be true.
We walked along the seafront for a while...
...towards the first of many beautiful bright yellow churches which we were going to see during the course of the day.
Then we turned up one of the little side streets into the centre of the town.
Some of the streets on Procida are very narrow.
They aren't pedestrianised either, so cars and mopeds come whizzing past you at speed.
We walked uphill for a while and caught sight of our second yellow church at the end of this road.
This one was really lovely.
At the side of the church was a viewpoint from where we could see out across some of the rest of the island.
Looking in the other direction, we could see up the hill of Terra Murata. The fortified building on the hill used to be a prison.
As we climbed higher up the hill, the views got even better.
Soon we could see the whole of the island's main town, with all its brightly coloured buildings.
These are what the photos of Procida had looked like when I'd googled it, so I wasn't disappointed
The guidebook said that the island was only four square kilometres. Now that we were standing here we could see that we had already accidentally walked across from one side of it to another; our ferry had arrived in the bit of sea on the far side of this photo.
The island is longer than it is wide though, so we could see that there was still quite a bit of it left to explore.
We continued up the hill until we reached the highest point on the island.
There was a yellow church here too, although this one could have done with a lick of paint.
Then we set off back down the hill to find somewhere to have lunch.
Our route led past some more multicoloured buildings...
...through narrow streets...
...and eventually down to the harbour that we'd seen when up on the hill.
From down here it looked even more amazing than from above.
There were plenty of restaurants down by the harbour but the problem was that - being on an island - most of them were specialising in fish Luckily we did succeed in finding a place that served pizza as well...
...and when the pizzas came they were enormous!
After lunch we decided to walk to the other side of the island.
There were yellow churches here too!
The streets were still very narrow and the locals had narrow cars and vans to navigate them
After 45 minutes or so we reached the sea again.
There was another small village on this side of the island...
...complete with yellow church!
There was also another small harbour...
...which we strolled around for a while...
...before heading back to the main part of the island.
We had enough time left for a final drink at the beautiful harbour...
...before it was time to catch the ferry back to Naples once more.
Tomorrow we will be leaving the western coast of Italy behind and travelling east, to Bari. It's going to have to be pretty spectacular there to beat the past couple of days at Pompeii and Procida