Procida, Italian city of culture 2022

Procida is the Italian Capital of Culture 2022.
It’s always welcome news when Italy’s hidden corners are brought to light and promoted in the media, especially when they actually receive some financial support in doing so. It’s always welcome news when new initiatives are centered around the Italian south, extraordinarily rich in resources but rarely valued as it should be; indeed, the south usually suffers from some laissez-faire treatment, which rarely turns out for the good. Look no further than Procida’s sister island of Vivara, where decades if not centuries of neglect have progressively eroded the soul of the place, despite the good intentions and efforts of the few who tried to resist the prevailing arrogance.

But in any case, we were delighted to hear about this “cultural year” in Procida: "culture doesn’t isolate" seems a particularly apt slogan, happily brief yet incisive and deep.
Procida has never really proclaimed itself like certain other destinations along the Amalfi coast. Capri and Ischia flaunt their admirable heritage, even though “our” humbler island provided the set for Massimo Troisi’s famous film "Il Postino" – one of the most lauded masterpieces in cinema history – with Philippe Noiret at his finest.

Procida doesn’t have a tradition of holiday resorts, though it certainly has no lack of resources. Its is a tale of blood and sweat, the former thanks to countless pirate invasions, first and foremost from Barbarossa and Dragut; only the Battle of Lepanto stopped the Ottoman corsairs helping themselves to whatever Procida happened to offer. The sweat, meanwhile, came from the brows of those who worked in the island’s shipbuilding industry, which until the close of the nineteenth century flourished alongside the naval profession. Today, the great shipyards have disappeared, but the sea still calls to many. Procida provides a disproportionate number of Italy’s, and indeed the world’s sailors.

And Tourism? Tourism, the generous reanimator of so many communities? Well, Procida sometimes doubles its population within a single day, when the suntanned visitors pour out from the ferries. The slower development of residential tourism, meanwhile, has more long-lasting benefit. Hospitality is sporadic and not particularly wide-ranging, and this is really what has limited Procida’s tourism hitherto: the slightly ad-hoc nature of it. This new initiative should mark a sea change on this front.

The 2022 programme is monumental, not to say profound and extensive. With more than 150 events, virtually every day will see some contribution by one of the hundreds of artists who hail from dozens of different towns. The events will range from studies of Black Holes to an exploration of Procidan lemons, a fascinating gastronomic variety distinguished by the thinness of its skin and its soft tartness – almost an oxymoron in nature. Present and future will be discussed as they pertain to how communities use natural resources, while the past will be taken care of by the local fishermen, who reveal the mysteries of their trade. That, and the works of art produced in Procida’s former prison. 

In short, it will be a true cultural medley. Thanks to the island, its value will exceed the sum of its parts; an island that is open, and therefore not isolated.