D&G had spent part of their honeymoon on the beautiful island of Procida, about 45 minutes away from Naples via hydrofoil, and suggested it might be fun to spend a morning on the beach there and so of course I readily agreed!
We decided to get the 08:40 hydrofoil (just under 15 Eu pp) as we figured this would be the best way to beat the crowds and ensure a good spot on the beach and after a minor unexpected diversion we managed to make the hydrofoil with minutes to spare, looking forward to an exciting day ahead of us!
I’m not one for sitting down when there’s exploring to be done and so spent most of the journey taking in the views from the deck, as the mighty Mount Vesuvius disappeared from sight and we headed down the coast, past ancient castles and small fishing villages until Procida finally came into view.
Procida is relatively “unknown” compared to its sister island of Ischia (indeed most of the people on our hydrofoil were continuing on their way to Ischia) and we heard very few non native Italians during our time there. It appeared that most of the people we ran into where either living on Procida, or somewhere along the coast, daytrippers much like ourselves, which made for a fun, local experience!
On arrival into Procida we hopped on the bus (you have to buy tickets in advance from the bus station just to the right of the harbour) and travelled through the maze of narrow, winding streets across the island for about 10 -15 minutes or so until we reached the south west coast and the Capannina Lido where we set up camp, renting a couple of sun beds for the day (about 8 Eu each if I remember correctly)
After a pleasant few hours spent reading (guess who had forgotten her swimming costume) and wandering the nearby streets, I headed back to the beach to meet D&G for lunch at Ristorante Girone, another Katie Parla recommendation, where they had enjoyed a wonderful few meals on their honeymoon and were looking forward to returning to.
Set into the rocks, just a few steps from the beach, Girone is everything you could hope for in a holiday restaurant and more. Simply decorated (everyone is going to be looking at the sea after all) this friendly, bustling little restaurant was doing a roaring lunch time trade and I was pleased we had the foresight to book ahead when we had arrived at the beach earlier that morning.
I really had no idea where to start with the impressive looking menu but eventually decided that it was only right to eat seafood as I was at the beach, and inspite of strong competition from “Gnocchi Gamberi e Friarielli” I made a last minute switch to “Spaghetti al Sugo di Polpi“(10 Eu) or Spaghetti with Octopus. We decided to start the meal by sharing a “Bruschetta di Pizza con Pomodorini” (6 Eu) and a litre jug of local white wine with peaches (10 Eu) which D&G had discovered on their last trip to Procida and I was keen to try!
The peachy wine turned out to be rather lovely, they use quite a citrussy local wine that softens and sweetens with the addition of the peaches, really delicious and easy drinking – fun to eat the boozy peaches afterwards too!
As soon as the Bruschetta arrived I understood why D had raved about it so much – I mean just look at it! Wow!! Just a simple pizza base topped with what looked to be at least half a dozen perfectly ripe, juicy tomatoes, more of that wonderfully fragrant basil, some good peppery local olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Absolutely heavenly, really something very special indeed, yet oh so simple!
If I was impressed by the bruschetta, you can imagine how wowed I was with the pasta! I guess on an island like this there will be such tough competition for business that you really can’t afford to put a single step wrong but Girone are really doing something very, very well indeed.
I was relieved that the pasta was a more manageable size than I had in Rome, cooked perfectly al dente and dressed in the most delicious tomato and octopus sauce, scattered with meaty chunks of melt in the mouth tender braised octopus. A revelation. The Italians really have perfected the art of simplicity when to comes to cooking haven’t they? I could eat like this forever!
Lunch settled (around 20 Eu a head once all the extras like water and cover charge for bread were added in) I headed off on another little wander before we had to make our way back to the harbour for the 16:50 (14 Eu) hydrofoil back to Naples.
Procida is a beautiful little island, almost stuck in a time warp or so it seemed but then so many little European islands have that feeling to me! A reminder of a simpler time, perhaps… It would be the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing on after exploring Naples, allowing you to have both a city and beach break and I’d really recommend extending your stay on Naples to include a night or 2 here.