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The coast between Pescara and Manfredonia including the Gargano peninsula and the Tremiti islands, provide an excellent chance for a quiet charter far from the traditional cruise routes


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Nautica Magazine 390, October 1994


Tremiti Islands

The pristine beauty of the Termite islands and the coast overlooking them, is an irresistible call to the sea loving tourist and the fact that the area is not particularly crowded even at the holiday season's peak, makes it even more attractive. The distance from the better known northern Adriatic resorts and the paucity of modern infrastructures, only recently enhanced by the construction of the Pescara Marina, has protected this entire area from the mass tourism invasion that year after year, routinely clog the better known northern resorts. Yet, the genuine and sometimes rough natural environment of the Gargano peninsula and the nearby Tremiti islands would, alone, be more than enough to attract a nautical tourism of much larger consistency.

Tremiti Islands Pescara, located at the mouth of the homonymous river, has always been a commercial center with its facilities cast in a channel port and two parallel breakwaters protruding into the sea for 400 meters. The Port Authority has recently detached part of this infrastructure to fill the tourist's needs by setting up a modern and efficient marina whose area is delimited by an additional breakwater linked to the existing southern one and another further south. In addition to the service area, the inner water space is divided into two wet basins, all for yachting use. There are 787 berths of which 80 are reserved to the passing yachts and lengthwise, the facility accepts boats from 5 to 30 meters Loa. Pescara has been traditionally a lively commercial and fishing port sharing with L'Aquila the Abruzzo regional supremacy. This the most appropriate starting point for the cruise which we would prefer to start in late spring or autumn (although the summer high season should not be ruled out) when the weather generated at this latitude yields a comfortable climate.

Heading south, Ortona is the first port to offer shelter although this location is mainly dedicated to the commercial and fishing industry. Yachts will find convenient moorings only at the far end of the southern quay where, nevertheless, 30 meters LOA boats can be easily accommodated. Further south and about 3 miles from the town of Vasto, the small Punta Penna harbor is protected by the eastern and western outer docks almost entirely usable: both have respectively two and one finger piers where maximum 10 meters LOA are accepted. Predominant winds from the North East generate a bothering swell inside this refuge. The interesting medieval town of Termoli is easier to reach. The port, protected by a breakwater tied up to the promontory on which the old town is built, is an ensemble of streets and alleys protected by powerful outer walls built under Frederic the Second rule and of which only the castle remains standing. The southern quay, the shortest and on the middle of which there is a wooden finger pier, is allotted to yachting but LOA should not exceed 20 meters. If starting from the south, the suitable starting point would be Manfredonia, at the foot of Mount St. Angelo. The actual name was given by King Manfredi who had the old Siponto population transferred here after wars and earthquakes destroyed the latter and the advancing marshes made life unsustainable there. Sacked several times by the Turks, Manfredonia has several tourist attractions like the 1680 built cathedral. the town is today a flourishing industrial center and is fenced by old city walls where the castle, whose construction was started by king Manfredi and eventually completed by the Angevins, lies amidst a pine forest.

The castle, together with the towers, part of the old wall fortifications, is an excellent conspicuous reference visible from all seaward quarters. The port is made by two dog leg breakwaters and a central and a central dock called Tramontana. At the foot of the southern breakwater, there is a small wet basin, Cala Spuntone, where yachts not exceeding 15 meters LOA can dock. The industrial port, an island dock, lies to the north and is closed to pleasure crafts. Further north, a few kilometers away from the town, lies the small port of Mattinata typical for its whitewashed houses lined up along the coast and surrounded by stone walls delimiting gardens cast between olives and grapes cultures. This port is made by a long dogleg breakwater with mooring facilities inside for 200 boats about and whose length, however cannot exceed 15 meters. The best part of the Gargano coast develops here until Vieste: it is an uninterrupted sequence of coves and small promontories topped with old lookout towers overlooking reefs and islets. The entire scenery is breathtaking with whitish cliffs, whose caves host a multitude of seagulls and geese and sinking into clear, deep blue waters. An endless numbers of coves, empty and with unpolluted waters are surrounded by olive trees reaching to the sea. Many of these caves can be reached by sea; light condition inside create incredibly beautiful coloration on the high ceilings and pure waters underneath.

Vieste, a lively fishing and holiday town, lies at the extreme end of the Gargano promontory, between the San Lorenzo beach to the north and the castle to the south. Of very old origins as clearly attested by many archeological findings including Greek pottery and a third century necropolis, Vieste was almost certainly the old Apenestre whose reference can be found on Tolomeus' writings. The old hamlet is characteristic with its white houses and narrow steep alleys and steps. The promontory is topped by the castle from which a superb view can be had. Immediately below, the S. Maria Oreta cathedral was built on the ruins of an old temple of which very few ruins remains. The small port is made out by the fishing facility and the Santa Eufemia refuge an islet providing some sort of shelter. Strong first quadrant winds however, create a dangerous swell that must be borne in mind. Passage between the islet and mainland is dangerous if draught exceeds 1.2 meters or the mast is higher than 12 meters and, in any case, a reef at about 2 meters from the southern S. Lorenzo dock requires extreme care. Yachts with maximum LOA of 15 meters can moor at the three piers purposely reserved to them.

On the northern Gargano coast and piled up on a promontory falling to the sea, lies the small and charming Peschici town with its surrounding walls and low gray houses peaked with oriental style cupolas, all dominated by a small medieval castle. In spite of the Neolithic findings going back to the iron and bronze ages, the town was founded only in the year 970 by Sueripolo, a Slavonian commander. It was owned for a long period by the Tremiti Abbey who had its mainland base here. The small port below is mainly used by fish-boats and island ferries. Yachts can moor at the breakwater inner side on the west, bearing in mind that water depth there does not exceeds the 2 meters. The dock in front of Rodi Garganico is instead partially silted and allows only for short stops in good weather conditions; enough to visit the town at the foot of a promontory and notable for an extended beach protected by a thick and luxuriant vegetation. Founded by the old Rhodians, this town still displays vestiges of its past at the old wall ruins. Throughout the century it was feudal property of various families until 1632 when it became the San Felice Duchy and, after Napoleon fall, hosted Johaquim Murat at a villa called Torretta del Re. Another highlight is the church of the Madonna Libera where a painting, thought to have beached here floating from the East, so the legend says, is displayed. Further inland, two lakes Varano and Lesina, are worth mentioning.

At this point, the Tremiti islands with its luminous splendid waters are only twelve miles away from the mainland. These islands, separated by shallow channels constitute a monolithic archipelago with three major islands: S. Nicola, S. Domino, and Capraia also dubbed as Capperara because of the abundance of capers growing, and several reefs, the bigger ones named the Cretaccio and La Vecchia. Of the entire archipelago, only S. Nicola is inhabited although Neolithic traces were found at S. Domino. Originally knows as Insulae Diomedae after the Homeric hero who is said to have been buried here, they derive the actual name to the old S. Domino, also dubbed Tremitis.

The religious and administrative archipelago center has historically been the island of S. Nicola with its Benedictine Abbey that the possession of the island. The ruins of fortifications, towers and wall so well inserted in the flat environment with cliffs falling to the sea, makes for a very interesting visit. However, the best part of the Tremiti islands certainly belong to their natural beauty where the richness of the vegetation intermingles with the clear water creating a pristine atmosphere in tortuous gorges vertically falling to the sea. Tremitìs waters have been subdivided in three areas: one totally reserved where entrance is permitted only by permit for scientific studies or guided tours, another where a general permit entrance is required, and finally the last where a permit must be obtained for fishing only. More complete information can be obtained trough the Harbour Master Office in Manfredonia or by consulting the Pagine Azzurre Pilot Book.

Tremiti Islands IIM nautical chart on Pagine Azzurre

As far as mooring is concerned, S. Nicola with its rocky coast has a dock accessible only in the evening hours, after the ferries have discontinued their service. Water depth is 1 to 2 meters and the prevailing winds blow from the South West. At S. Domino, the largest of the islands with high broken rocky coasts, several coves offer shelter but the best night anchoring can be found at the Cala degli Schiavoni (Slavonian Cove) at the north east island's end. A dock has been built here protected to the north by a breakwater with water depth of 2 to 4 meters. This cove can only be used during the low season as ferries use it for their night stops. It results that the safest mooring is anchoring nearby, sheltered by the islands and taking advantage of the spread shallow waters surrounding them.

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