Procida becomes first island to win Italy’s capital of culture

Procida has been named Italy's capital of culture for 2022, the first time an island has been awarded the title.

Procida becomes first island to win Italy's capital of culture
Procida is a short boat ride from the city of Naples. Photo: Laurent Emmanuel/AFP

Picturesque Procida, which lies in the Bay of Naples, was chosen ahead of nine other finalists: Ancona, Bari, Cerveteri, L'Aquila, Pieve di Soligo, Taranto, Trapani, Verbania and Volterra.

With fewer than 10,500 inhabitants, Procida was the smallest of all the candidates, but impressed the Ministry of Culture's judges with a proposal focused on sustainable, non-seasonal tourism that they said could provide a model for other Italian seaside towns looking to attract visitors who want more than a beach.

READ ALSO: How to spend the perfect day out in Procida

Titled 'La cultura non isola' or 'Culture doesn't isolate' – a pun on the Italian word isola, which can mean both 'island' and 'isolate' – Procida's proposal involves inviting 240 artists to create a programme spread over 330 days of the year. It also foresees improving the island's links to the mainland and the city of Naples, a half-hour boat ride away. 

Procida will receive €1 million towards the plan.

Often overlooked by the tourists who flock to Capri and Ischia, Procida has retained the old-fashioned charm sometimes lacking in its more famous neighbours. Its colourful fishing harbour, steep winding streets and white sandy beaches have provided the backdrop to period pieces Il Postino and The Talented Mr Ripley, among other films.

READ ALSO: The stunning movie scene locations you simply have to visit in Italy

There are already plenty of reasons to visit, whether it's the sea view from the Abbey of St. Michael the Archangel, dramatic clifftop prison the Palazzo d'Avalos, the pastel shades of Corricella marina, the sheltered beaches of Chiaia and Chiaiolella, or local delicacies from sea urchins to wild rabbit or lemon-cream pastries.

As well as adding new artistic attractions, Procida's 2022 proposal said it would protect the island's existing natural and cultural heritage, with a focus on 'slow tourism' and attracting repeat, year-round visitors who offer a long-term contribution.

Colourful Coricella marina. Photo: Laurent Gence via Unsplash

While visiting the island remains impossible for most people both outside and inside Italy under the coronavirus travel restrictions currently in place, tourism will recover by the time Procida takes its title, culture minister Dario Franceschini assured.

“By 2022 we will have returned to normality and tourism and culture will come back as strong and important as they were before the pandemic,” he said.

Italy's 2020 capital of culture, Parma, had its run extended into 2021 to make up for the difficulties of the past year. 

Procida will be succeeded as cultural capital in 2023 by the towns of Brescia and Bergamo, which will share the title in recognition of the heavy toll taken by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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TRAVEL: How to visit Rome’s Vatican Museums

Planning a visit to the Vatican Museums? Here’s the most essential informaton you’ll need about tickets, when to go, what to wear and how to get there.

TRAVEL: How to visit Rome's Vatican Museums

As many people plan to visit their favourite sites in Italy this year after a long absence, we’re putting together our own quick guides to some of the country’s most-loved attractions. If you or someone you know is planning a trip to the Vatican Museums, here’s what to know before you go.


Advance booking isn’t required to enter the Vatican Museums, but it will help you avoid long queues at the entrance (those with ‘Skip the Line’ tickets still have to queue, but for less time).

If you’ve left it too late to book tickets for your dates in Rome, you should still be able to get in by turning up on the day – you just need to plan to spend an hour or so in line.

READ ALSO: Nine tips for making the most of a Rome city break

It’s safest to arrive early in the day to avoid disappointment; make sure to check you’ve found the right queue before committing.

Opening hours

The Vatican Museums are open 9am-6pm Monday-Saturday, with final admission at 4pm.

On Fridays and Saturdays from April 14th to October 28th, opening hours are extended to 10.30pm, with final admission at 8.30pm.

The museums are closed every Sunday apart from the last one of the month, when entry is free of charge; expect to contend with large crowds if you want to take advantage of this.

There are a few dates, including Christmas and New Years Eve, when the museums are always closed; you can find a complete list here.

Entry fees

Tickets cost €17 full price or €8 for children between the ages of 6 and 18, or students up to the age of 25. Children under the age of six are free.

A whopping €5 per person booking fee applies for all Skip the Line tickets, including discounted ones – so if you’re a larger group you may decide you’d rather just wait in line.

Entry to St. Peter’s Basilica is free, but be prepared to spend a long time queuing and go through an airport security-style bag check before you can enter.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

When to go

The museums tend to be busiest on weekends, and on Mondays when many of Rome’s other museums and archeological sites are closed.

Most Wednesday mornings, there’s also Papal Audience at the Vatican’s Nervi Hall or in St. Peter’s square, which draws large crowds to Vatican City.

That means Tuesdays and Thursdays are often recommended as the best times to visit to avoid hordes of people – but as a world-famous attraction, there’s rarely a ‘quiet’ time to see the museums.

Dress code

As the Catholic state, Vatican City has its own, semi-strict dress code.

Shorts or short dresses or skirts above the knee are not permitted, and if your shoulders are exposed, bring a shawl or scarf to cover them. 

Hats aren’t allowed, and neither are exposed tattoos or messages that could be considered offensive to “Catholic morality, the Catholic religion and common decency”.

A free cloakroom service is provided for storing clothing and objects that aren’t allowed into the museums.


Getting there

Conveniently, there are a couple of A-line metro stops – Ottaviano and Cipro – right near St. Peter’s Basilica, and a number of buses also pass by or near the museums.

Rome’s centre is relatively small and walkable for a major European capital, and if you’re near the centre, you may find it easiest to go on foot.

If you’re on the River Tiber’s walking and cycle path, head in the direction of Castel Sant’Angelo and climb the steps when you arrive; Vatican City is just a short distance away.

How much time to budget

While many visitors are most interested in the Sistine Chapel, your ticket includes all of the Vatican Museums, and you’ll want to make sure you get your money’s worth.

The Vatican Museums are vast and contain a wealth of cultural and artistic heritage, from classical and Renaissance statues and busts to tapestries designed by Raphael, Michelangelo’s Pietà, a gallery of 500-year-old maps, and many more treasures.

You could easily spend the best part of a day wandering the museums, but if you’re in a rush, you’ll still  want to budget a good two-and-a-half to three hours.