The inner center

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The inner center

The votive Aedicule

"A Cunnicella"

In this page we wish to illustrate a parti­cu­lar religious aspect, characteristic of many little streets in the centre of town (common also in many other Sicilian towns) and typi­cal of the religious tradition of the people: the votive Aedicule (“a cunnicella”).

We have looked for them going through every alley, flight of steps, tortuous, small streets of Bronte; can be seen without dif­fi­culty at every corner and crossroads.

They are almost a consistent part of the urban structure in the historic centre of town. Small architectural compositions attached to the houses, embedded in the external walls or in any street wall, tiny little temples built to protect a sacred image, a small statue or an icon.

Rarely are located in the centre of streets, the preferred location is, nearly always, on the external wall of a house, few meters from the ground; adorned, well lit and normally containing a simple shelf. They are turned to the public space, to the street.

From ancient times, as even now, continue to transmit the certainty of their protection.

Nothing exceptional from an artistic point of view, very few can be defined art works. Some however show remarkable good taste and originality and many of them, especially in the centre, date from very ancient ages.

All of them represent the deep religious sense and ancient devotion that link up Bronte’s people to their patron Our Lady Annunciate, to whom they address their prayers during the worst moments of their history, especially the ones related to Etna eruptions.
She is in fact the recurring theme of the sacred representation.

Every one of them hands down a story of its own, a tradition or an historic testimony. Every citizen of Bronte retains a clear memory of something linked to an event, a sensation or devotion.

Some of them are linked even to a precise historic happening like the aedicule placed in the SS.Cristo area to remind us of a terrible lava eruption that miraculously stopped at the edge of the town in front of Our Lady’s statue.

Via Annuniata

Via Cavallotti

Via T. Campanella

Via Annunziata

Via M.Rapisardi

Via Santi

Via Sterope

Piazza Croce

Via Scafiti

Via Appia

Via A. Spedalieri

Via Palermo

Viale Catania

Via Santi - Stesicoro

Via Cavallotti

Via Bari

Via Imbriani

Via Santi

Via G. D'annunzio

Corso Umberto

Via B. Radice

Corso Umberto


The genesis of the Aedicule realiza­tion is to be found in the existential need of the an­cient peasant com­munity.

It was a simple choice and a fairly cheap way to conway a mes­sa­ge of faith, devo­tion and obedience usually with a pain­ting or a picture, and, some­time, a small cross or a little statue.

In Bron­te’s historic centre the Aedicules are truly everywhere.

Put as a protection to the house and the families grouped around it, was used for their cult. They represented the altar of the neighbourhood, of all the people living in adjacent streets.
Clearly the function of the small Aedicule, in the past, had, beyond the religious meaning, an aggregating value for the inhabitants of the houses nearby. During religious festivities at the Aedicule, adorned with flowers (and also fruit; at Christmas, mandarins among brambles) the families of the quarter (la ruga) used to be reunited and pray together.

Modern life, with its new idols, other types of protection or security and the convulsive progress of time have obscured forever these traditions and their meanings. Especially in the older zones of town, now progressively neglected, some aedicules show their age, many have lost completely their decorations and design.

They are votive niches, square, rectangular or arch vaulted, embedded in the wall thickness of the house or on the face of the wall with small pillars or columns and the sacred image set inside, with a covering and, nearly always, closed with pretty gratings or a simple wooden frame, protected by glass.

Micro-architectural structures, all different to one another, strangely shaped, simple or in baroque or classic style, poor or rich of ornaments, built with lava stone, sandstone or marble (rarely valuable).

Bronte, edivola votiva di Piazza CroceSome of them (among the most ancient) modest and plain, but lovely in the colour and design still visible, others well made, rich of ornaments and well taken care of every particular, with colours, drawings and figures, vaguely naďf and a little lamp always lit.

Nearly always have very simple and essential shapes, typically popular, rather poor in their materials, colours and decorations, with a small shelf for the votive offerings.

The upkeep and the maintenance of the aedicule is carried out first by the initial founder and then by groups of neighbours related to him.

The sacred image, generally, represents the Virgin Annunciate, Bronte’s patron, always different in her making, often portrayed beside the town, holding in her hand a flag attached to a long pole with which kills a dragon.

Via M. Rapisardi

Via Annunziata

Via Card. de Luca

Via Santi

Via Card. De Luca

Via Mad. di Loreto

Via Scafiti

Piazza Inverno

Via Cornelia

Via De Amicis

Via Santi

Via Grisley

The explanation is well known as it is related to a legendary episode following the blady clash between soldiers and the people of Bronte during the riots of 1820.

The inner center

Votive Chapel

Bronte is certainly not short of churches. And still it is enough to enter the town from anywhere (Cesarň, Adrano, Randazzo) to encounter the first tiny temples and, going through the small streets of the centre, run continuously in Aedicules, icons and sacred images.

Any sign built in the space is never casual, being always the result of a religious and cultural tradition, practical demands, and existential requests.

These small votive chapels, away from the houses, built to protect a sacred image or a statue were built at the start and at the end of the inhabited centre in what was the extreme periphery of Bronte.

A decentralized urban choice to protect the country town.

Some of them present the classical wall altar, shaped very plainly, and made of poor materials; others are small monuments with a stone base supporting plain crosses.

They are testimony of popular piety now devoid of any meaning and taken out of the context that had conceived them; incorporated among the houses have changed their original rapport between the town and the countryside.

Via Palermo

Via Messina, Viale Catania e "Cruci Tirinnanna"

Piazza Carcerebue

Cortile C. Augusto

Piazza Cappuccini


The votive Aedicule  of Colla


Ss. Cristo

The Aedicule built in the area SS. Cristo
to remember a devastating lava flow stopped
exactly behind Bronte.

Was built on the spot where Bronte’ believers
 had brought in procession and left
 the statue of Our Virgin Lady.


      Translated by Sam Bella ITALIAN VERSION

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