Thursday, August 2, 2012

Escape from Naples ~ Island of Procida

As excited as we were to be going to Naples and Pompeii, I was not pleased that our summer vacation would consist solely of hot & dusty sites. I love swimming and neither of these places were conducive for a dip. I've posted a bit about our successes (and failures) in this arena, but despite any setbacks - I really love a good swim. When I hear about expats in exotic lands with palm trees and turquoise water I have to fight the intense feelings of jealousy, no matter how awesome Berlin is.

So the whisper of islands off of Naples was intoxicating to me. I had heard of Capri (and it's epic tourist hordes), but the words Ischia and Procida were totally alien. At first we were leaning toward Ischia.
Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 km from the city of Naples. It is the largest of the Phlegrean Islands. The Aragonese Castle was built on a rock near the island in 474 BC, by Hiero I of Syracuse.
Mmmm...sounded intriguing. Especially since the castle appears straight out of Game of Thrones.
The main industry is tourism, centering on thermal spas that cater mostly to European (especially German) and Asian tourists eager to enjoy the fruits of the island's natural volcanic activity, its thermal hot springs, and its volcanic mud. For many of the inhabitants on the Italian-speaking island, German and English are second languages. The  Aragonese Castle is owned by a hotel and thought the exterior is accessible, you cannot enter the castle. 
Hrm. That doesn't.

So we focused on Procida, the smallest and least touristy of the islands. The hostel staff spoke affectionately of the black sand beach hidden on the island and the charming town. It was also the cheapest ferry and shortest ride. Sold!

Italian island

island off of Naples Italy

Italian boats

Definitely sleepier than Naples, we blearily made our way to the beach. It was so hot, I felt like the tiles  of the street were as hot as the brilliant sun overhead. Even the Texan nephew took advantage of my sunscreen. We made our way to the water, and even though it wasn't quite the "island in the sun" I had dreamed of, it was quite nice. Families were cheerily yelling at each other, a joyous dog rummaged people's camps and was cajoled into a boat, and skin baked even in the shade. We happily jumped in and felt our internal temperatures return to normal. Then we set of to find the beach the hostel staff had spoke of...

Italian building

...up the hillside and past lines of laundry...

BerlinIan in Italy

...picking a lemon off of one of the fragrant trees...

and back to the original beach as the sun threatened to boil us alive. We think the hostel staff was confused about where the ferry landed, so our trek in the crisscrossing streets with locals giving us the confused side-eye was for naught. Ah well. On second look, that beach wasn't half bad.

Naples Island Italy

We swam and watched the Italians, a sport in of itself. Ian modeled our new apron, and our one wondrous lemon.

tourist in Italy

Italian boy Procida

We finished swimming and went off to check out the rest of the island. Fried foods and shrines weren't so different from Naples.

saints Italy

But these views....we found the magic beach.

Naples Island Italy

Procida harbor

As we breathlessly ascended a steep road on our way to the castle promised at the top, we were astonished by these views. Boats were gathered pointing at the harbor and we wondered if something was happening. The colorful houses, transcendent waters, and vibrant life you could hear from the boats is the best of Italy.

We had seen Procida, and it was beautiful. Time for another classic: Beer & pizza.

Naples ~ Island of Procida

Naples  Island Italy sunset

Naples Ferry
Victorious Swimmers

Island of Procida Italy ferry sunset

Islands outside of Naples

Posts on Naples:

Naples - When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Day trip to Pompeii
Pictures of the Street Art of Naples

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We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008