The island of Procida named Italy’s Capital of Culture

Forty-four cultural projects, 330 days of programming, 240 artists, 40 original works and 8 regenerated spaces: these are the numbers of a year that promises to be unforgettable for the city of Campania region.

The island of Procida named Italy’s Capital of Culture

Italy’s Island of Procida, a territory of the Campania region (capital city Naples) is getting ready to pick up the baton from Parma which, due to the pandemic, will retain the crown of Italy’s Capital of Culture for the whole of 2021.

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“Culture does not isolate”: this is the name of the dossier with which from the deep waters of the Tyrrhenian (the Tirreno sea) the little Procida defeated Ancona, Bari, Cerveteri, L’Aquila, Pieve di Soligo, Taranto, Trapani, Verbania and Volterra, the other nine fierce finalists in the running for the title of Italian Capital of Culture 2022. For the first time in the initiative’s history, the award goes to a small village (just over 10 thousand residents) and not to a provincial or regional capital city .

In addition, explained the president of the jury Stefano Baia Curioni, Procida does not win for its beauty or for its history, but for the quality of the project presented. “The island land is a place of exploration, experimentation and knowledge, it is a model of cultures and a metaphor for contemporary man.

Power of imagination and concreteness of vision show us Procida as an exemplary capital of relational dynamics, of practices of inclusion and of care of cultural and natural heritage “, reads the candidacy dossier:” Procida is the island that is not an island but a laboratory cultural of social happiness “.

The Procida 2022 program

Forty-four cultural projects, 330 days of programming, 240 artists, 40 original works and 8 regenerated spaces: these are the numbers of a year that promises to be unforgettable for the city of Campania region.

On the island, culture is not an end in itself, but is divided into five sections open to a changing reality: Procida invents (exhibitions, film screenings, performances and site-specific works), Procida inspires, in which the island itself becomes engine of imagination and creativity, Procida includes, where art becomes a terrain of interaction between individuals and the community, Procida innovates, so that the cultural heritage of the island is rethought in the comparison with local and international innovators, and Procida learns, in search of new , stimulating educational modalities.

“The cultural project has elements of attractiveness and excellent quality”, read the jury’s motivations read by the Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini during the recent proclamation: “The context of local and regional public support and private is well structured, the patrimonial and landscape dimension of the place is extraordinary, the laboratory dimension, which includes social aspects and technological diffusion, is dedicated to the Tyrrhenian islands, but is relevant for all the realities of the small Mediterranean islands.

The project could determine, thanks to the combination of these factors, an authentic discontinuity in the territory and represent a model for sustainable development processes based on culture of the island and coastal realities of the country.

The project is also capable of transmitting a poetic message, a vision of culture, which extends from the small reality of the island as a wish for all of us, to the town, in the months that await us “.

History of Procida.

The origins of the name of the island are lost between reality and legend.

Among the most suggestive hypotheses is the one that derives the name Procida from the Greek “prochetai” it means: lies; for the morphology of the island. Others still derive the name from that of a nurse of Aeneas named Procida, buried there by him.

According to the most reliable testimonies, the first news about Procida dates back to the eighth century BC. when, coming from the island of Eubea, the Calcidese (a Greek commune in the periphery of Central Greece) settlers landed there with their cultural baggage, in the artistic and cultural fields.

It is then the turn of the Romans who preferred the mainland to the Phlegrean islands ( a volcanic area of Naples) as a holiday site, as their volcanic nature did not lend itself to the constructive grandeur of Roman architecture. Only Capri, because of its limestone rocks, had the honour of becoming an imperial seat.

During the early Middle Ages, Saracen pirates who raided the inhabitants frequently beat the island. Among the most devastating raids are those of the Muslim corsairs led by Barabarossa.

And the legend of San Michele Arcangelo, who later became the patron saint of the island, is linked to one of the many Saracen raids.

After the Saracen raids, the coasts of the island were filled with watchtowers and the typical rural houses scattered in the hinterland of the island and the coastal fishermen’s houses were abandoned for the safer promontory of Terra Murata (formerly called Terra Casata since in this area the houses of the Procidani gathered to better defend themselves from Saracen raids) which, with its 91 m height, was the only defensible point of the island.Here the pocidani dug their homes in the tuff, built embankments and dug ditches.

The local economy changed from maritime to rural due to defensive needs. During the day like this, the people of Procida went to the nearby fields to return at sunset or at the sound of the alarm bell.

In the late Middle Ages, Procida had its own feudal lords: Giovanni da Procida from 1210 to 1258, the Cossa 1339-1529 and the d’Avalos from 1530 to 1729, followed by the Bourbons.

The waters of Procida were also the scene, in July 1552, of a naval expedition during which the Ottomans captured seven galleys from a Neapolitan team under the orders of Andrea Doria.

The island passed to the Neapolitan crown in 1644, was occupied three times by the British: in 1799, during the Parthenopean Republic; from 1806 to 1809 in the French period against Giuseppe Bonaparte and G. Murat and in 1813 during the anti-Napoleonic wars.

The subsequent history of Procida does not follow a particular course, but is mostly linked to the events of Naples.

The island of Procida-Facts-

Procida, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is located at the entrance to the Gulf of Naples, between Ischia (to the west) and Capo Miseno (to the east).

With its 4 square kilometres of surface, it is the smallest of the sister sisters Ischia and Capri, but it has almost 11,000 inhabitants ( named Procidani).

To the west of Procida and connected to the latter by a bridge, looking towards Ischia, stands the uninhabited island of Vivara, completely covered with Mediterranean scrub.

Procida is of volcanic origin, and traces of ancient craters can still be recognized in its typical crescent gulfs (sources speak of 5 or 7 craters); the soil consists of deep yellowish tuffs and a layer of gray tuff on the surface.

It reaches a maximum height of 91 meters and is therefore rather flat; but the lively inhabited areas with polychrome houses, the rich vegetation within which a typical spontaneous Mediterranean architecture blends, the clear and shining sea, and the beautiful coastal rocks, generate landscape views of rare charm, and make it a popular tourist destination.

To admire its beauty, to enjoy those spectacles transfused into art, literature, the many films shot there, one have to wander through its narrow streets, through its alleys.

The pen can only partially describe the splendid spectacle presented to those who land on the island, but it can revive the historical, political, ecclesiastical events of the past.