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The city of Bronte is set on the western slopes of the Etna volcano, with a nice view over the Simeto River’s valley.
Several religious buildings in town are worth-visiting.
The Mother Church – It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and resulted from the joining of two originally adjacent churches. It contains a precious wooden Crucifix.
Santuario dell’Annunziata – Dedicated to the Annunciation, the city’s second church dates back to the 1500’s. It has a simple façade featuring a sandstone portal with a 1500’s lava-stone window. Some beautiful paintings grace its interior, such as the “Madonna con S. Francesco e Santa Chiara” and another one depicting Sant’Orsola. The church is renowned for a marble statue dedicated to the Annunciation.
Collegio Capizzi – A religious building of cultural interest. It houses a Library with books that Jesuits left behind when they were driven from Sicily. An art-gallery is also housed inside. The building was erected towards the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century it played a major role in the cultural education of the Island’s elites and illustrious people such as Luigi Capuana.
Minor Churches, Palazzi and city surrondings – Among the city’s minor buildings are the churches of S. Blandano, the Holy Rosary (1500’s), comprising a convent, the Virgin of the Chain and the 1500’s St. John’s. Two museums deserve a mention: the Ethnographic Museum housed within the Masseria Lombarda and the Vagliasindi Museum. The latter, arranged in two rooms, holds a collection of archaeological relics among which are bronze coins of the Greek and Middle ages.
The Castle of the Nelsons – It is a former Benedictin abbey – Abbazia di Maniace - dedicated to St. Mary, located few kilometres off Bronte. It was named after the Greek General Maniakes, whose troops drove Saracens out of Sicily. The castle sits on the field of that famous battle. Heavily damaged by an earthquake sometimes at the end of the 12th century, it was successively rebuilt. It passed through many hands, begin with the Benedictine and the Basilian Friars, and was eventually bestowe on Admiral Nelson who helped the government put down a revolt. It comprises a splendid park and a small nice Arab-Norman church dedicated to S. Maria di Maniace, containing many interesting pieces, among which is a precious 1200’s polyptych depicting the Enthroned Virgin with San Biagio, S. Antonio Abate and Santa Lucia.
The city, included in the Etna Park, is endowed with several naturalistic sites. Notably worth-visiting is a trail along the Ruvula Mount, stretching across a beautiful landscape comprised of the Centorbi wood, and the “Tre Frati”, “Peloso”, “Sellato” and “Minardo” mounts.
According to legend, the city of Bronte was founded by the cyclop Polyphemus. Discoveries of tombs seem to testify to Sikel settlements in the area. The city was successively ruled by the Greek, Carthaginian and Roman. In 1040 the Norman-Byzantine armies led by General Maniakes defeated the Arabians. His name is commemorated in the Monastery of S. Maria di Maniace, built in the late 12th century.
Agriculture represents a major economic resource. Bronte’s pistachio is internationally renowned.