Carol Forster column

The Tremiti Islands.
The Tremiti Islands.

I‘ve always had a thing about small islands.

I love the concept of a small piece of land jutting out of the sea, away from it all, so ‘The Tremiti Islands’ are perfect for a jaunt away from the mainland.

Found 40km off the coast of ‘The Gargano’, the spur of Italy’s heel in northern Puglia, the main inhabited ones are San Domino and San Nicola, forming part of a five island archipelago.

Unfortunately, ‘The Tremiti’ were once routinely used for exile and punishment so uncharitable Emperor Augustus sent his unlucky grand-daughter there as a punishment.

Even more unpleasantly, in the 8th century, Charlemagne must have been having a bad day when he despatched his father-in-law there.

Not only did the poor chap have that to deal with, he was also sent there minus limbs or eyes.

Although the islands’ main purpose was prison and exile at one time, an abbey was built on San Nicola by monks from mainland Montecassino in the 11th century.

Just to liven things up a bit, some 200 single women were also sent there to encourage a recovery, during Bourbon times.

I now have quite an image in my head of monks, lovely young ladies and some poor guy without his extremities wandering round, but these events weren’t all simultaneous.

The natural form of the islands varies.

San Nicola is rugged and rocky whilst San Domino is more lush, with pines and even a small beach.

It’s well worth sauntering around here for a few hours and, provided you avoid high season when the beach gets somewhat overcrowded, it would be rather lovely lying there and looking out to sea.

Regular ferry boats connect to the mainland so it’s not a problem getting back, as I’m sure you don’t want to feel a prisoner there.

Heading back to the mainland, ‘The Gargano’ is a treasure trove of beautiful beaches, coves and cliffs next to the pristine turquoise sea.

This is a lovely spot for a holiday and perfect for a more enjoyable exile.