The inner center

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City of Bronte

The inner center

Bronte offers, from the top of his hills, a unique landscape. The houses, colored and attached, one top of the other, stand out among the mass of lava rocks, the rows of trees, the lightly veiled fields, the hills vanishing to the horizon.

Arrived in Bronte, coming from Catania, at the start of the Corso Umberto, here is the "Scialandro" where in ancient times they used to hang the outlaws sentenced to death. It has a magnificent belvedere from which is possible to enjoy the view of Etna that dominates Bronte, the panorama of the green Simeto valley. with all his mountains, up to that highest in Sicily, mount Soro (1847 meters).

The old city center keeps almost unchanged the original town planning structure and the ancient, original cobweb of narrow streets winding through the most significant architectural components.

The old districts, with some characteristic Arab structures added to various architectonic elements, hug each other yet with small courtyards and narrow streets, around the churches that constitute, since the union of the 24 Casali in Bronte (1535 - 1548), the monumental references of Bronte's citizens: the church of SS. Trinità (la Matrice), Maria SS. of Soccorso and the sanctuary of the Annunziata.

In these pages we shall offer you a virtual stroll trough the most hidden corners of the Historic Centre of Bronte, and make you go along its alleys, narrow and tortuous street, its recurrent steep flights of steps, visit the courtyards, the underpasses, the valuable main doors, and the lava stone architraves of the noble palaces and the peasants’ houses, the tiny temples and all sorts of aedicule with lovely icons of the Virgin Lady that the deep religiosity of the Bronte’s people has erected during the centuries.

Up to few decades ago, the entry to the town (coming from Catania) showed an ancient mill built by the Nelson, to­day replaced by a big block of flats that irreparably disfi­gure the landscape.

It was the second "modern" mill built in Bronte; the first (fuelled by coal) had been installed in a place near the Mother Church (in the square of the ex jail).

Another (pla­ced near the Capuchin convent) was also operating as an electric power plant, to light up, "from the Ave Maria (dusk) for about two hours of the night", only the principal street (today, Corso Umberto). The rest of the lighting was left to oil lamps "except in the evenings of full moon".

In this photography the powerful structure of the Real Capizzi College can be noticed and, to the left, the Municipal palace still in phase of completion.

Visiting the old city center of Bronte the indisputable tracks left by  the domina­zione araba (Arab rule) are there to be seen: can testimony, a part from the nu­merous topographic references (grotta Saracena, Cantera, Piano Saraceno,) and the big number of Arab words in the brontese dialect (frastuca, frastucara), the many architectural and town planning elements of the country.
Typical example is the characteristic under portico ("u catoiu"), a narrow passage boxed under the houses, characteristics of the Arab buildings.

This typical under portico (the "Catoio"), it was presu­mably built at the epoch of the unification of the 24 Casali (settlements) (1535-1348); it was leading to a courtyard, where various fami­lies originating from the same far­mhouse lived, so assembled to better defend themselves from eventual outlaws' raids.

Translated by Sam BellaITALIAN VERSION

Balcony in the Manzoni streetCistern in the Acacias CourtyardPublic drinkin fountainCisternFlight of steps in via Foscolo


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