The municipalty of Bronte
Bronte,situated above a lavic slope in the Northwest of the volcano, dominates the Valley of the river Simeto. From wherever you turn the look, the place offers the visitor the pictures of colourful and varied Sicilian campaign that, uniting seamlessly with the mountains (Nebrodi and Etna) seems to be projected into the sky.
According to the myth the Cyclops Bronte, son of Neptune, was the King and founder of the town with the same name. Father Gesualdo De Luca, great historian of Bronte, in his work “history of Bronte”, crediting from scratch the myth on the stage of history, refers to the famous verses of Virgil representing < < cyclops Bronte, Sterope and Piracmon with naked limbs, working the iron in the vast cavern of Etna >>.According to the words of the historian Benedetto Radice, not the Cyclops, but Sicilians and Sicani were the first inhabitants of the area, around the VIII BC, as testified by the presence of funeral cells in the shape of ovens found in Bronte territory; later, in passing, there were Roman, Carthaginian and Syracusan armies. Become one of the main centers of grain supply to Rome, Sicily, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire,it became part of the Eastern Empire. Between the 7th and 8th centuries a.c., began the first Arab raids that resulted in the 9th century in the occupation of the island: the introduction of pistachio plant is still important for the economy of Bronte . In the year 1040 General Giorgio Maniace, leading an army consisting of Byzantine and Norman troops managed to gain the upper hand on the Saracen army which was then driven out from these areas. Queen Margaret of Navarre, in memory of the brilliant victory of Christianity on the infidels, in 1173 makes to build a monastery that she entrusted to the Benedictine monks.
In the following centuries,from the Swabians to the Altavilla, from the Angevins to the Aragonese, to the viceroy, there was a series of abuses and heavy taxation. The Act of establishment of the municipality of Bronte is dated 1535, when Charles V convened the 24 hamlets in a single university that he called “Bronte”. During the Bourbon domination,there were two major events: in October 1778 was completed the construction of the Collegio Capizzi, one of the liveliest cultural centres of the island, founded by the venerable Ignatius Callus; on 20 January 1800 the King of Naples, Ferdinand I gave the Abbey of Maniace, with the adjoining territory, to the English Admiral Horatio Nelson, naming him “Duke of Bronte”, as a reward for the help received in the course of the revolt of the Neapolitan Republic. It was the presence of the heirs of the English Admiral one of the causes of the intensification of social tension that culminated in the infamous Bronte Facts of 1860. That year, in fact, misinterpreting the spirit that animated the Garibaldi’s expedition to Sicily, a riot broke out, which ended in the massacre of so-called hats (inhabitant of Bronte in most prosperous economic status). Garibaldi, more to protect the interests of Nelson than for grounds of public policy, sent in Bronte Nino Bixio with a garrison; sedated the riots, a rapid process took place which lead, on 9 August 1860, five alleged leaders of the revolt to be shot in the square opposite the Church of San Vito.
The Volcano Etna
Approximately half a million years ago in the Ionian zone of Sicily, in the vast Gulf that stretched between the Peloritani and the Iblei,there were the first manifestations of Etna’s Eruptive (Mons-Gebel, “the mountain par excellence” of the Arabs), of which there is witness in the area of Aci Castello, Aci Trezza and Ficarazzi.
Etna with its lithological boundary of 250 Km and a surface of about 1260 square kilometers, is the largest active volcano in Europe; his height, at the Summit craters, reaches the altitude of about 3350 m, but the height is variable over time as the explosive activity is not always of type “constructive”, but sometimes can also be “destructive” with slumping and subsidence of the crater enclosure walls. The vegetable universe of Etna is characterized by a combination of factors in which the volcanic nature of the mountain has a predominant role. The flora of the Park, extremely varied and rich, affects the landscape offering continuous and sudden changes.
In the volcano still lives porcupines, foxes, wild cats, Martens, rabbit, hares and, among smaller animals, weasels, hedgehogs, dormice and several species of mice and bats.
There are many birds and particularly birds of prey that testify the existence of large uncontaminated spaces. Herons, ducks and other water birds can be observed in the Gurrida lake, only water of mountainous area. In wooded areas it is possible to see jays, colombos and partridges who mingle to a myriad of songbirds. Among the different species of snakes, which with the green lizard and the lizard inhabits the undergrowth, the only dangerous is the viper. Last but not least, there is the great, diverse universe of insects and other arthropods: butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, spiders etc. with their fundamental and irreplaceable role in the ecological balance.
The idea of the Constitution of the Etna Park, to protect this extraordinary natural environment and unique in Europe, was born during the 60s.
Only on 14 August 1987, however, was formed the public corporation for the management of the protected area called Etna Park Authority established in Nicolosi (CT), first Park to be established in Sicily.