Tremiti islands, little Italy
TREMITI ISLANDS | SAN DOMINO (9,5 KM)
In the central Adriatic Sea, just above the Italian Apulian peninsula of Gargano you can find an archipelago that consist of five small Italian islands. A group of islands you probably have never heard of yet. The Tremiti Islands, or in Italian ‘Isole Tremiti’.
A name that refers to the strong seismic activity that once took place here in this archipelago. Tremiti comes from the Italian ‘tremalante’ which means trembling. Nowadays these islands are an ideal environment for a short discovery trip on foot or a couple of days of relaxation.
The Tremiti islands belongs to the National Park Gargano and has the status of a maritime nature reserve since 1989 because of its beautiful underwater world. The best way to reach the islands is by boat which runs daily from the ports of Termoli, Vasto and Ortona.
Do you want to visit the islands during high season? In that case you even have more choices. In these times you are also able to take a boat from Manfredonia, Vieste and Rodi Garganico. But the boat is not the only option, as a helicopter flies back and forth to the island every day. Of course this costs a little extra, but the views of the archipelago are breathtaking.
Depending on the means of transport chosen, you will arrive in the archipelago on one of the largest islands, San Domino or San Nicola. San Domino is the largest and greenest of these two and the entire Tremiti archipelago. This island is perfect for relaxation but also for a beautiful hike. Since San Domino is not permanently inhabited, enough space is left for rich nature. The island, like all the other Tremiti islands, consists of jagged and rocky coastlines surrounded by crystal-clear, azure-blue water. The best place to start a hike is from ‘Cala delle Arene’, the small and only sandy beach in the archipelago. This beach is located next to one of the two small harbours on the island. It is also the end of the island closest to San Nicola, so it is handy if you are on that island to take your first steps into the archipelago.
The route is easy to follow, as there are few roads and paths on this island so it is difficult to get lost. But because this island focuses most of all on tourism, all highlights during the hike are also very clearly marked. During the hike, you will encounter many dead ends that lead to panoramic viewpoints or caves. You will not want to skip any of these dead ends, but this also means that the number of kilometres and altimeters may increase more than previously thought. The views that you get in return for this extra effort, however, are overwhelming. When you have enough time, it is therefore highly recommended to take in all the highlights.
Faro di San Domino
San Domino is very green and consists for the most part of a forest of orange trees, pine trees and fig trees. Because of this, you walk for a large part on forest paths and therefore in the shade, which makes the walk attractive even in hotter weather. Also the salamander, the most common inhabitant of San Domino, likes to be seen in warm weather.
The reptiles literally jump in all directions at your feet and you almost have to be careful not to step on one of them. At the halfway point of the walk, you leave the forest for a while and arrive at ‘Faro di San Domino’, the island’s lighthouse. This forested part of the island gives you a great view towards the mainland.
Just over half way there is a climb to the top where you can enjoy a new view of (all) the other Tremitian islands. At least, three of the other four islands in the archipelago are visible from the highest point on San Domino. The smallest island, Pianosa, lies some 22 kilometres away and is the only one not visible. This island is relatively flat and hardly covered in vegetation. There is only a lighthouse on the island called ‘il faor’, otherwise it is uninhabited. In heavy weather, part of the island even disappears into the sea water.
The other three are close to San Domino and are therefore clearly visible from the highest point on this island. San Nicola is the only island that is inhabited all year round. The island is the historical, religious and administrative center of the archipelago. Most people live on this island, mainly on the southern part. Here you will also find the boat connections from Ortona, Termoli and Vasto.
If you have arrived in the archipelago by boat, it would be better to discover this island first prior to a hike on San Domino. San Nicola was provided with defense works in the 7th century. The Benedictines who arrived later converted the fortress into a monastery. These can still be admired on the island today.
San Nicola is a popular diving paradise. Divers encounter beautiful fish species in the crystal clear waters on their way to the special underwater caves. A true paradise for diving enthusiasts. This is in stark contrast to the function of a penal colony that this island had in World War II for political opponents of Mussolini. From San Nicola there is a regular ferry to San Domino so that you can easily discover both islands.
Capraia en Cretaccio
The other two islands are also popular with divers and are best known for their jagged coastline. Capraia is barren and flat and there are only two buildings on it. The lighthouse and the ‘Casa dei Coatti’, originally built as a prison, later used as a farm. The small Cretaccio is bare and is also very susceptible to erosion and therefore doomed to disappear into the sea one day. However, this island is said to have been inhabited in prehistoric times. Apart from the views that these two islands offer from San Domino and San Nicola, it is not really worth visiting.
After enjoying the view at the top of San Domino, you continue your hike on the west side of the island past another spectacle of caves and views. The hike ends at the small beach where you can enjoy the warm sand under your feet and a well-deserved drink. There is a regular ferry service between San Domino and San Nicola so that you can easily discover both islands in a relatively short time. In any case, the archipelago as a whole has a lot to offer and is a tropical destination with many possibilities.