THE NELSON DUCEA

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Nelson's Castle

The Obelisk

Raised in honor of the IV Duke of Bronte

The Celtic-style basaltic cross that stands in the center of one of the courtyards of the Nelson Duchy complex is the only memory left by his heirs in honor of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

The Serra del Mergo obelisk, although incorrectly known as Nelson's Obelisk, was instead built in honor of one of his descendants: the fourth Duke of Bronte Alexander Nelson-Bridport.

It was built in 19O5, a few kilometers from the Castle of Maniace, in Contrada Serra del Mergo (1553 m.), near Serra del Re (1754 m.) and the Foresta Vecchia area, by Duke Alexander Nelson-Hood in honor of his father who died a year earlier.

At the base a large plaque, now worn by time, has a Latin inscription carved on it which reminds us that it was placed in the year 1905 in memory of Alessandro Nelson Hood (IV Duke of Bronte, photo on the right), "illustrious descendant of the immortal hero of the Nile":

"MEMORIAE,
ALEXANDER NELSON HOOD DUCA BRONTIS,
VICECOMITIS BRIDPORT,
QUI IN HAEC RURA,
QUAE ESEMPIO HAEREDITATE ACCEPERAT,
PLECLARO PARENTE HEROE
IMMORTALI NILI,
HUMANITATIS ET PROGRESSUS CULTUM INVEXIT,
NATUS FUIT 23 DECEMBRIS 1814
OBIIT 4 JUNII 1904,
FILIUS AMORE IMPULSUS HOS SIGUM POSUIT,
ANNO MDCCCCV"

(To the memory of Alexander Nelson Hood, Duke of Bronte, Viscount Bridport, who in these places inherited from the immortal hero of the Nile promoted well-being and civilization. He was born on 23 December 1814 and died on 4 June 1904. His son erected this monument driven by love in the year 1905).

For years, the centenary stele has shown the signs of time but above all of the continuous devastation and offenses of man. Cracks mark the length of the large blocks of sandstone, some unfortunately missing and the quadrangular base is also compromised.
It is framed, in fact, by a series of three disconnected or ruined sandstone blocks. If nothing is done, there is a serious risk that it could collapse onto the ground below, furrowed by deep trenches caused by off-road vehicles.

Before it falls into complete ruin, rather than due to the neglect of time or the continuous, perennial vandalism, it seems appropriate to launch an appeal for a conservative restoration, also fencing off the place to avoid direct and devastating access from the numerous quads and off-road vehicles on Sundays. But who to turn to? The stele appears to have no brace. Which body is responsible for its restoration: the Nebrodi Park, the Municipality of Bronte, the Province of Catania, the Region?

May 2002

 

FOTO N. FARANDA

Il IV Duca di Bronte, Alexander-Nelson-Hood

The fourth Duke of Bronte Alexander Nelson-Bridport

How to get there

The obelisk was erected on the highest and northern limit of the Ducae, in the Serra Mergo sui Nebrodi district.

The monument has now lost its primitive meaning to become the destination of an enchanting excursion and a good starting point for the numerous paths that cross the Nebrodi Park.

From Nelson Castle, after crossing the bridge over the Saracena stream, continue right at the crossroads. You pass along the asphalt road that runs alongside the small English cemetery where the Dukes and, since 1905, the English poet William Scharp are buried and continue straight for about 4 km, up a steep climb, through the houses of the Taiti district up to the refuge of Segheria Forestry Corps.

Here it is best to park the car and continue on foot, although, especially in the warm months, it is possible to continue with an off-road vehicle up to Serra del Mergo.

The landscape is enchanting. After an initial stretch of dirt road you return to the asphalt and at the crossroads you turn left and shortly after at a gate you leave the asphalt and continue to the right along a dirt road that goes uphill.

The continuously uphill route can be completed in about 90 minutes without the possibility of making mistakes, alternating wooded sections with uncovered areas.

Obelisco Nelson

The obelisk, located in a place of extraordinary beauty and great charm, despite general indifference, is currently completely abandoned and subject to acts of vandalism of all kinds.

Already visible from afar, it is located on a panoramic point (1553 m above sea level).

It dominates what were once the Nelson possessions (La Ducea dei Nelson, almost 25,000 hectares of fiefdom).

The view extends from Monte Soro (1847 m.) to Lake Trearie and the Nebrodi woods, turning south to the imposing mass of Etna, which dominates Bronte and the other piedmont villages and finally, below, the gaze rests on the small village of Maniace and Nelson Castle to whose history the imposing stele is linked.
 

Some history of:
 -  Horatio Nelson,  Related topics
 -  The Maniace Abbey

Translated by Sam Di BellaITALIAN VERSION


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