San Nicola: legends, history and beauty
The vast and beautiful San Nicola – municipal and administrative center of Apulia’s Tremiti islands – is a treasure trove of legends and history.
One of the most famous tales regarding San Nicola is the one according to which Diomedes, Ulysses’ heroic friend, did not go back to his native Argos after the Trojan war, but instead founded cities in Apulia and gave birth to the Tremiti – also known as the Diomedee in Italian – by throwing three huge boulders into the sea. Each one would turn into an island: San Domino, Capraia and San Nicola, where Diomedes is said to be buried.
A traditional story about the foundation of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria a Mare, which towers over the island, is tied to this legend.
It is said that in the 3rd century AD, a Christian hermit built the original core of the Sanctuary by order of Mary, received in a vision during which the Holy Virgin also told him the location of the Homeric hero’s hidden treasure, so he could use it to pay for the construction.
Real history, on the other hand, offers many episodes about Hellenistic and Roman settlements, events during which different religious orders came to manage the Sanctuary during the Middle Ages, terrible pillaging inflicted by Dalmatian pirates on the people of the island… and much more.
But no matter what imaginary or real past this island has lived, now all we see is beauty.