Today they are administered by Apulia but their history is closely connected with that of Molise, which
is only 24 nautical miles away. The church and monastery (“un Mont-Cassin en pleine mer”, Bertaux 1899) were founded by the Benedictines in 1045 but were
later transformed on several occasions in the Cistercian and Lateran periods. Fortification architecture characterises the entire island of St. Nicholas; the
present conditions bear witness to repeated modifications made in the course of at least 4-5 centuries, which have resulted in peculiar wall stratifications and
a rich case history of arrow slits and murder holes, towers and bulwarks dating back to different periods and serving different functions.
The fortress is a “quantità di baluardi accomodati con tal ordine che l’uno possa defendere l’altro” (Lorini, 1609).
The most important elements are the long access ramp to the citadel, the door-towers,
the castle (defended by high escarped walls and the natural conformation of the bedrock) and the Cavalier tower of St. Nicholas which protected the “tagliata”,
the artificial ditch that isolates the citadel from the north-eastern side of the island.