Hidden away in the Bay of Naples is the small island of Procida, which has just been named Italian Capital of Culture for 2022.
This is the first time an island has been awarded the title, since it was founded seven years ago. Procida followed in the footsteps of cities such as Perugia, Palermo and Parma – Italy’s current Cultural Capital.
The receiving city (or, in this case, the island) is becoming a focus for cultural heritage enhancement and tourism development, with many projects and initiatives underway to benefit the region.
There are currently 44 cultural projects planned in Procida, along with a 330 day program, involving 240 artists and eight renewed cultural spaces.
“Procida can be considered a metaphor for many places, many governments, many communities are rediscovering enthusiasm and pride for their territory,” said the island’s mayor, Raimondo Ambrosino.
In the process of applying for the title, Procida presented a vision entitled “la cultura non isola” – which translates to “culture not isolating”. This concept is an important part of being awarded the position of the Capital of Culture, with special resonance in our time.
The vision “is able to convey a poetic message, a cultural vision that reaches from the small reality of an island as a good wish for all of us, for the country, in the months to come,” said the Capital City. Cultural 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 appear a surprising choice for such a large title.
But, even though it is the least visited of the three islands, Procida is very beautiful with an authentic feel. The island has a population of only about 10,000 people, but covers a total area of only 4 sq km – it feels alive, without being overcrowded.
One of the main reasons Procida was chosen is the richness of the island’s traditional arts, with a myriad of artisan workshops (especially on the Marina Grande).
Procida also has a unique history of its own, with Ancient Greek artifacts from the 16th century BC found all over the island. About 3,000 years later, Charles III of Spain turned Procida into his personal game reserve, before becoming an outpost for the shipbuilding industry.
As a result, the island is architecturally outstanding, with beautifully colorful buildings that capture these distinct historical periods. Today’s visitors can dive offshore in search of impressive underwater archaeological sites.
It’s no surprise, then, that Procida has featured and inspired many great works of art. Elsa Morante’s 1957 novel Arturo’s Island is set in Procida, and the island plays a major role in Alphonse de Lamartine’s legendary novel, Graziella.
For film buffs, you might recognize Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton’s Procida from Cleopatra in 1963, where the dome of the island’s church can be seen in the scene where Cleopatra’s barge enters the harbor. Recently, the island has also appeared in The Postman and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Apart from that, there is also something for nature lovers. It is possible to watch whales off the island, and one of the most important dolphin colonies in the Mediterranean lives in the waters around Procida.
Where is the next Italian Capital of Culture?
After Procida is in the spotlight next year, the baton will be handed over together to Bergamo and Brescia, the two cities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Parma, in northern Italy, is currently the Capital of Culture – a title the city has held for two years. Usually the post was for one year, but it was decided to extend Parma’s term following the coronavirus crisis.