A small group of islands 40km off the Gargano coast, the Tremiti islands – Isole Tremiti – are almost entirely given over to tourism in the summer, when the tiny population is swamped by visitors. Despite this, they remain relatively unspoilt and the sea crystal clear. The main Tremiti group consists of three islands: San Nicola, San Domino – the biggest – and Capraia, of which only the first two are inhabited.
The islands were traditionally a place of exile and punishment. Augustus banished his granddaughter Julia to the islands, while Charlemagne packed his father-in-law off here (minus eyes and limbs) in the eighth century. Monks from Montecassino, on the mainland, first set about building a formidable fortress-abbey on one of the islands in the eleventh century, which managed to withstand frequent assault by the Turks. Later, during the eighteenth century, the islands returned to their old role as a place of confinement for political prisoners, though the Bourbons, concerned at the decline in the local population, shipped in two hundred single women from Naples to encourage a recovery.