NAME: Piazza San Vito. The revolutionary uprising of 1860.
LOCATION: Piazza San Vito, Bronte.
DATE OF CONTRUCTION: 1985 (the monument)
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: On August 10, 1860, in the square in front of the entrance to the convent of San Vito, on the orders of General Nino Bixio, five men were executed by firing squad. The five were presumed to have set a series of fires and to have caused bloodshed in the events that are referred to as the “Facts of Bronte” or the “Massacre of Bronte.” The citizens of Bronte, who have always cultivated the land, had lived for centuries as simple farmers pouring their sweat and labor into the land without ever managing to obtain ant rights over it. In 1494, a Papal Bull from Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) granted the Bronte territory to the Hospital (Ospedale Maggiore) in Palermo, they lands were subsequently passed to Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1799. In 1860, General Garibaldi promised to dismantle the feudal estates and return the land to the peasant farmers, but because he didn’t want to create disagreements with the English—who in large part owned the territory around Bronte—he chose not to keep his promise to the Brontesi people. Thus began a citizens’ revolt against the landowners. The tumultuous episodes caught the attention of Garibaldi who wanted to placate the heated situation, so sent his chief general, Nino Bixio, to restore order. Once he arrived in Bronte, Bixio posted a manifesto to warn the people of Bronte about a trial that would be held to root out and punish the insurrectionists. On August 10, 1860, no hearing was held; instead, five men who were presumed guilty were brought into the piazza and were shot on sight. Among these was Nunzio Ciraldo Fraiunco who was considered to be the town “simpleton.” The execution of these men served as a warning to the rest of the town and brought the revolt to an end. In memory of the unwarranted execution, in October 1985 a meeting was held and the City of Bronte erected a monument, created by Domenico Girbino, a local sculptor, in front of Piazza San Vito. There are also two commemorative plaques that read:
“Ad perpetuam rei memoriam che nell’agosto 1860 di cittadini brontesi donò la vita in olocausto” “Amministrazione Comunale 10 Ottobre 1985“.
(“To the perpetual remembrance of the citizens of Bronte that gave their life in sacrifice” “City Council 10 October, 1985”)
HOW TO GET THERE:
by car you can arrive and park just a few dozen meter from the piazza
by foot: from Corso Umberto you must climb up via Santi for about 500mt.