Procida: The Most Colorful Island in Europe

Located off the coast of Naples, Italy, the island of Procida may arguably be the most colorful island in Europe. The island has a population of only 16,000 but attracts nearly 300,000 tourists every year. Despite having such a small land mass, Procida has a long history and a colorful architectural style. It is surely an important place of history and beauty.

procida from above

The most striking aspect of Procida is the vibrant and colorful houses. The people of the island paint their houses in a vast array of lively colors. Buildings painted in pink, orange, red, and yellow are visible throughout the island. But why? Why does this little island particularly use these types of colors for their houses? Well, this answer lies in the islanders’ livelihood.

the procida coast
Gianluca Di Falco

Since it is an island, the main way to earn income in Procida is fishing. But fishing is a dangerous job, for most of the time. Bad weather conditions such as rain, storms, and fog can all put the fishermen in danger. So, to easily detect the coast, their homes, and the land, the fishermen of the island painted their houses.

procida houses

Aside from the colorful houses, Procida has a history that dates back to the 15th century BC based on the objects found on the island. Geologically, Procida was the result of eruptions of four volcanoes which are now dormant. Historians estimate that around the 8th century BC, a group of Greek settlers arrived on the island followed by other Greeks from nearby colonies and regions.

the island and its boats

While the first mentions of the island depict it as a barren place with nothing on or in it, under Roman rule, the island flourished. Around these times, Procida became a resort for the ruling-class families to get away and find peace and quiet. The island was part of Campania, which fully became a part of the Roman Republic in the 4th century BC.

the procida streets

In the Middle Ages, Procida became a place of refuge. Living in fear due to the Vandals and Goths, many Italians and Europeans escaped to the island. The island fortified itself with walls and became known as “the fortified land.” Afterward, the Spanish king gave the island to the D’Avalos family and encouraged shipbuilding. During this era, agricultural effort decreased and fishing took its place.

the island coast and the sea
Edouard Culpin

Although the island enjoyed a kind of independence for some time, towards the late 19th century, when the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies fell, the island became a part of the Kingdom of Italy. In the following years, Procida ran across some local troubles. In 1907, the island lost its mainland. The facing island called the Mount of Procida became an independent territory following some disputes.

the colorful buildings of procida
Dani Glugoz

All in all, Procida has been a cultural and historical icon of Italy. In 2022, the island was selected as the Italian Capital of Culture. The islanders celebrate many religious and traditional festivals every year some of them even dating back to the 17th century. Many novels and movies used the colorful exterior of Procida as a setting, giving the island’s beauty its due.

all four corners of procida
Barbara Mattiuz