Procida is less well-known than Capri and other islands in the glorious Bay of Naples, chiefly favored by Italians, a scant 30-minute ferry ride from the mainland and barely a half square mile in size. On Easter weekend, though, the ferries are full because Procida’s Mysteries of the Dead Christ processional—begun in 1754 as a macabre march of flagellants—is one of the most colorful in Italy.
I was there to see it a few years ago and brought back pictures:
The Mysteries of the Dead Christ procession begins at Terra Murata, where early on Good Friday the wagons are prepared, like this one devoted to the Last Supper. Nearby are the medieval fortress of San Michele Arcangelo, the site of a palace built in the 16th century by the Bourbon kings of Naples, and a small museum that displays floats and regalia from the pageant.
A horn-blower announces the start of the procession, which winds along the island’s south coast.
Here is the finished Last Supper float, carried by members of the Brotherhood of the Turchinis, one of the confraternities that traditionally participates in the procession.
Here’s the condemned side of the Last Judgment, one of the more lugubrious wagons. But even this one has a certain homemade sweetness suggesting less the passion of Christ than the passion of the Procida people for their beloved pageant.
Spectators follow the procession through the fishing village of Corricella.
Finally, Christ’s black-lace-covered catafalque comes at the end of the procession, accompanied by a brass band playing a dirge.