An open-air museum
Towers, fortifications, walls, churches and cloisters – San Nicola, rich in monuments and the second largest of the Tremiti Islands after San Domino, is a living testimony to the historical events of the entire archipelago. It is accessible by ferry in an hour and a quarter, departing from Termiti, in the province of Campobasso, or Rodi Garganico, in the province of Foggia.
San Nicola is best known for its fortress-abbey, Santa Maria a Mare, also known as “Montecassino in the middle of the sea” in recognition of its grandeur. We recommend visiting to discover its truly fascinating origins and the trials and tribulations of its history.
This architectural-religious gem dates back to the 11th century, when Benedictine monks settled here. The church still preserves, almost intact, its original layout, with a rectangular plan, three naves and a double ambulatory. You can also admire the 11th-century floor mosaics on the central nave, the wooden statue representing the Virgin and Child (with dark faces, likely an indication of other Byzantine influences), a 13th-century wooden Cross with a unique shape (also typical of Greek-Byzantine iconography), and the wooden polyptych on the high altar, a true masterpiece of gold-embossed carving.
The cloisters of the monastery are also remarkable; in the centre is a traditional well, used to supply the monks’ nearby refectory.