Italy's hidden jewel
While backpacking through Europe several years ago I visited the island of Procida. Everyone I knew who had been to Italy said we should visit Capri. I wanted to go to an island that very few Americans, if any, had ever visited. We left Napoli on a Snav, one of the local ferry services. After a short 30 minute trip we docked the ship and grabbed our bags. When we got off of the ship I got to see many different pastel houses, dark sandy beaches, and striking layered cliffs.
After walking around for awhile we decided that we better get a place to stay and put our bags. We walked for a few miles up and down the hills until we came across some small bungalows. We had actually struck gold, the price was only 5 euro a person, per night. It came equipped with 2 beds, a kitchen, bathroom, and a local shower not far away. Also, we were just a stone's throw away from the ocean. We unpacked our bags, locked the door, and headed out. About a block up the shoreline was a little pizzeria. It was a little place but the food was to die for and the owner and his family were very nice. We were the first Americans that they had ever met. His two daughters were in their early teens and they knew a little English. Which was a plus to me because I know very little Italian. We spent the next two weeks just relaxing, sight seeing, and hanging out with our new found friends. The Italian people are so different from Americans. The owner had us over to his house on several occasions. We even got to visit his mother's house on a Sunday after church, where we got to meet his whole family.
Our tour around the island was very peaceful and adventurous. On one side of the island you are way up on a cliff ledge overlooking the old part of the city and a castle, the fortress of Giovanni da Procida. There are several lemon farms as well. And I don't mean a lemon like we are used to seeing here in the states, these lemons looked like they were on steroids. They are at least double the size of what we are used too. There are many stores on the island as well. Each one is better than the next. The food on the island was absolutely delightful, and the pastries were insanely good.
Most of the locals are fisherman. You can buy fresh fish each night down at the docks. One fisherman told me that the reason all of their houses are different colors is so they can tell which one is theirs from the water. I do not know if this is true or not. But if you get a chance I suggest speaking to the fisherman. They are full of many stories and tales of the island and its past.
If you go into town there are steep and narrow roads that wind around. You have to be very careful. There are cars and scooters that come flying around corners and there is really nowhere for you to go to get out of the way. One of the neatest stores I found in town was an old antique store, close to the post office. Inside were amazing trinkets from Italy's past. I must have spent a few hours in there just walking around and purchasing many things.
On our last day there, we spent some time at the docks. The locals were building a huge replica of the Trojan horse. I am not really sure why they were building it, but it was very neat to see.
If you are ever in the Mediterranean I highly recommend visiting this island. This is where Italians go for a vacation. It is full of picturesque views, great food, lovely people, and you can really emerge yourself into the culture.