San Nicola - Isole Tremiti
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TREMITI ISLANDS

An archipelago of rare beauty, positioned in the Adriatic sea, north of the Gargano peninsula, San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Pianosa and Cretaccio make up the Tremiti Islands.

The Islands were known by the ancient Romans as Insulae Diomedeae. Legend recounts that the Greek hero Diomedes landed, died and was buried here and that his companions were turned into Diomedee, (the calonectris diomedea, or Cory's shearwater) named after the Greek hero, Diomedes; sea birds who nest in the rocks of S. Domino, part of the Tremiti Islands.
However, the Islands were inhabited since Neolithic times (10.000-3.500 BC). In particular, S. Domino has traces of villages from the 7th, 4th and III Millennium BC, whilst finds in S. Nicola date back to the Iron Age, as well as tombs from the Hellenistic Age.
During the Roman Empire, the Islands were definitely used as a place of confine as testified by the Giulia Minore (Julia the Younger), Augustus’s niece incident, who when her adultery was discovered by her grandfather, was exiled on the islands for 20 years until her death.
Finds from this period uncovered some Domus, being Roman mosaic flooring.
The same fate happened to Paolo Diàcono, author of “the Langobardorum History,” who was exiled on the Tremiti Islands between 771 and 786, for having conspired against the Emperor Carlo Magno.
The Benedictine Monks arrived on the islands during the 9th Century from the powerful Montecassino Abbey and during the 11th Century, the Santa Maria Church by the sea and the Benedictine Monastery (1045) were constructed.
Over the course of two hundred years, the monks accumulated enormous wealth and property along the coast of Puglia. They also had strong relationships with the privateers and traders along the Dalmatian coasts. These monks yearned independence from the Montecassino Abbey and were finally substituted by the Cistercian or White Monks (1237) under the orders of Pope Gregory 9th.
The San Nicola Tower was built under the Angiò reign.
In 1334, the privateers from the Dalmatian coast, commanded by Almissa, entered the Monastery by deception: they pretended to want a ceremony and burial for one of their companions who had died at sea. During the funeral in the church, they awaited the pre-arranged signal to take out their knives and exterminate all the monks, then took away all their wealth from the island.
The result of this slaughter was so great that the islands remained deserted until 1412 when Pope Gregory 12th managed to send a congregation of Lateranense canons.
The new Abbey guests transformed it according to the Renaissance style and in only a few years managed once again to possess enormous wealth throughout the territory.
In 1567, the Abbey resisted attack by 150 Turkish ships, commanded by Piali Pascià.
From this moment however, the Abbey experienced a terrible period of economic decline, so much so that in 1647, they proposed to sell the entire complex to the Celestine Fathers for 400.000 ducats. This transaction was finally impeded by the King.
With the advent of the Bourbons, Carlo III declared the Tremiti Islands as royal property (1737). His successor, Ferdinand 4th, closed the Tremiti Abbey for ever (1782) and acquired all their properties. Ten years later, the same sovereign ordered that the island become a penal colony, where many people involved in the Renaissance clashes and brigands from the subsequent century were sent.
In 1806, the island was taken over by the followers of Murat, who remained until bombardment by English ships. The prison remained active until 1926, when it became a place for political confinement, which also accommodated the future president of the Italian Republic, Sandro Pertini.
On July 14th 1989, the Tremiti Islands were declared a natural marine reserve.

TREMITI ISLANDS

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