The Postman’s Island

Adored for its simplicity, panoramic views and natural island beauty, Procida — one of a group of five small islands that make up the Partenopeo Archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the coast of Naples in the Campania region of southern Italy — has served as the backdrop for novelists and screenwriters alike.

One of the most notable novels set on Procida is Graziella, penned by Alphonse de Lamartine, who came to Procida at the beginning of the 19th century while a member of the French army. Another celebrated work is L’isola di Arturo (1957), one of the better literary efforts of Elsa Morante.

Hollywood and Italy’s counterpart Cinecittà (Cinema City) both came calling, too, as Procida has routinely been chosen for location shooting on a number of films due to its pastel panoramas and traditional Mediterranean architecture.

The most famous feature-length movies shot on Procida to date are The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), starring Matt Damon and Jude Law, and Il Postino: The Postman.

Il Postino tells a fictional story in which real-life Chilean poet and devout Marxist Pablo Neruda is exiled to a small Italian island for political reasons in the early 1950s. An unemployed son of a fisherman is hired on as an extra postman to exclusively hand-deliver the deluge of mail arriving daily due to Neruda’s residency.

Over time, the two form a relationship and soon the simple postman begins to love poetry.  The postman, falling silently and madly in love with Beatrice, a barista at her aunt’s caffè, enlists Neruda’s help and guidance to express his feelings.

Il Postino stars French actor Philippe Noiret as Neruda, and Italian thesps Massimo Troisi as postman Mario and Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Beatrice. Sadly, writer-actor Troisi postponed much-needed open-heart surgery so that he could complete the feature, and the day after filming wrapped Troisi suffered a fatal heart attack and never saw the director’s final cut.

Fortunately, Troisi’s “capo lavoro” in Il Postino left behind a memorable and endearing performance for movie fans everywhere to enjoy again and again. He was posthumously nominated for a best-actor Oscar at the 1995 Academy Awards.  Il Postino is must-see cinema and right up there with Cinema Paradiso (1989 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film), another small budget, big hit Italian classic.

And what about the tiny island of Procida? It’s situated between Capo Miseno and the island of Ischia. Spanning less than 4 sq. km. (2.4 sq. mi.), it has a very jagged coastline. Terra Murata (Walled Earth) is the island’s highest point, topping the horizon at 91 m (300 ft.).  Geologically, Procida was created by the eruption of four, now dormant and submerged, volcanoes.

Mycenaeans, Greeks, Romans – who made Procida a patrician resort – Normans and French laid claim to the island over the centuries.  Legend has it that the all-powerful Greek god Zeus exiled two misfits — Cercopes from Ephesus – who enjoyed playing pranks on the gods, to the islands of Ischia and Procida, turning them both into monkeys along the way.

Today, Procida remains an uncomplicated, simple, laid-back picturesque dot in the sea when compared to its vibrant, larger and more popular sister islands of Ischia and Capri.

Flourishing gardens and fragrant lemon and orange groves beckon travelers to its quaint port. It’s just the kind of charming retreat where a simple postman can while away the days writing poetry to impress and win over the woman he loves.

©The Palladian Traveler

©Tom Palladio Images


  1. Another great post Tom – A little birdie has been telling me that I should watch both Il Postino and Cinema Paradiso, this article may have been the nudge I needed!

  2. One of my favorite places in Italy! Procida is also famous for its lemons and has some wonderful Limoncello and raw lemon salad to enjoy! Great photos!!!

    1. We enjoyed the local limoncello on Procida and Ischia when we visited. Never tried the raw lemon salad, but when the lemons are sweet, like they are on the islands, they probably make a great insalata.

  3. You’ve made me want to visit. I’ve been to Ischia, and the Aeolian Islands, but this is a new one on me, thanks to you. Sounds a bit like the Aeolian island of Panarea, maybe?

    1. Helen – the Aeolian Islands, as you know, sit just above Sicily around Cefalu. Having not visited Panarea, nor the other islands in this chain – trust me, I will – I can’t draw a parallel between Panarea and Procida, other than they both begin with the letter P. That said, if you decide to go to Procida, plan to stay on Ischia and then just ferry over when you like. Ischia is full of beauty farms/spas. Either island is good, but you’ll probably want the larger of the two to hang your hat for a week or so. Glad you like the article, and that I’ve nudged you further south. Ciao for now. TPT

  4. Il Postino always makes my top ten list of favourite films – Philippe Noiret was also a favourite actor. Thank you so very much for improving my day!! Look forward to the next read…many, many more.

    1. Hey June – I’m a big fan of small budget, independent films. Along with the two I mentioned in the post, I also consider “Waking Ned Devine” and “The Man who went up a Hill and came down a Mountain” in that group of great films. Thanks for the nice review. I promise to keep posting if you’ll keep reading. Tom

    1. G-Chic – So glad you “stumbled” upon the Procida article, one of my fav places I’ve visited thus far around Italy. Thanks very much for nominating the TPT blog for an award. I’m humbled by your recommendation.

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