Procida island, a capital of culture in Italy

Procida island, a capital of culture in Italy

Procida, a tiny island in the Bay of Naples, was put on the map last year when it was named the Italian capital of culture for 2022.

This colorful destination is the first island to be awarded the title, since the award was established eight years ago. It follows in the footsteps of cities such as Perugia, Palermo and Parma ― the Italian capital of culture last year.

Recipient cities (or islands) are at the center of improved cultural heritage and tourist development, with numerous projects and initiatives to benefit the region.

Procida is now a quarter of its tenure and has numerous cultural projects that inspire residents and tourists alike. Next month, a "paper fleet" event will see thousands of small origami boats made by local children cross the bay, raising awareness of the fragility of the environment.

44 cultural projects are planned, along with 330 days of programming, involving 240 artists and eight regenerated cultural spaces ― such as an old 16th century palace.

"Procida can be considered a metaphor of many places, many administrations, many communities who have rediscovered the enthusiasm and pride for their territory," the island’s mayor, Raimondo Ambrosino, said last year.

During the application process for the title, Procida presented a vision entitled "la cultura non isola" ― which translates to "culture doesn't isolate." This concept was a significant part of being awarded the Capital of Culture position, with particular resonance in our current times.

The vision "is capable of conveying a poetic message, a vision of culture that reaches out from the tiny reality of an island as a well-wish for all of us, for the country, in the months to come," said the Capital of Culture Commission in a statement.

Why was Procida chosen?

The smallest island in the Bay of Naples, often overshadowed by its neighbors ― Capri and Ischia ― Procida, may seem a surprising choice for such a great title. But, while Procida is the least visited of the three islands, it is exceptionally beautiful with an authentic feel. The island has only 10,000 inhabitants, but only 4 hectares.

One of the main reasons Procida was selected was the island's wealth of traditional art, with artisanal workshops (especially in Marina Grande).

Procida also has its own unique history, with ancient Greek artifacts from the 16th century BCE found across the island. A few 3,000 years later, Charles III of Spain turned Procida into his personal game reserve, before it became a major outpost for the shipbuilding industry.

As a result, the island has extraordinary architecture, with the beautiful, multi-colored buildings capturing these different periods of history. Visitors today can dive off the coast in search of impressive, underwater archaeological sites.

It is no wonder that Procida has been featured and inspired in many important works of art. Elsa Morante's 1957 novel Arturo's Island is set on Procida, and the island plays a major role in Alphonse de Lamartine’s legendary novel Graziella.

For film fans, you might recognize Procida from the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton version of Cleopatra in 1963, where the island's church dome can be seen in the scene where Cleopatra's barge enters the harbor. More recently, the island appeared in The Postman and The Talented Mr. Ripley too. Plus, there's something for nature lovers too. It's possible to whale watch off the island, and one of the Mediterranean's most important dolphin colonies live in the waters surrounding Procida.

What else is planned for Procida's Capital of Culture year?

The best is still to come, according to the thought-provoking program outlined by Visit Procida.

In May, the monumental Palazzo d'Avalos ― one of the eight places afforded a re-do ― will host "SprigionARTI", a contemporary art exhibition with site-specific works from celebrated Italian artists, running until December 2022.

If archaeology is more your bag, an exhibition entitled "The Greeks before the Greeks" follows from June-September; a joint initiative between the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Archaeological Park of Campi Flegrei and the Civic Museum of Procida. Many projects take an interactive approach. "Happening of Human Books" will involve a director overseeing 180 citizens, as they each interpret a page from "The Immortal" by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. This will be acted out in 22 "symbolic places" across the island.

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