The 15 of October 1878 (four years
from the start), was celebrated the solemn opening of the school.
There were 37 boarding students, coming
from Bronte, Cesarò, Castell'Umberto, Biancavilla, Nicosia, Patti,
Centuripe, Pettineo, Randazzo, Mascali Troina, Regalbuto, Roccella,
Francavilla and, even 10 from Gangi.
The boarding fee was 14,25 onzes per
In the 1781 the kingdom president, D.
Antonio Cortada, approves the regulations of the College drawn by the
priest Capizzi. The first balance 1778-79 was closed
with a loss of 108 onzes, anticipated by the rector Minissale (total income
585 onzes, expenses 693). The College did not possess anything else, but
many brontese benefactors were still giving natural contributes (sheep,
The following year, 1779-80, the
boarders were 55, coming also
from Maletto, Sperlinga, Alcara, Castiglione, and the Municipal
Council of Bronte helped by conceding a contribution (the
"scasciato") in favor of 15 boarding students.
Obviously there were initial difficulties common to any activity,
also because most goods necessary to the life of the college were
purchased in other centers: pasta in Giarre; beans in Mascali;
walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts in Randazzo; cheeses in Francavilla;
wine in Linguaglossa and Piedimonte, etc..
The deputies then decided to lease some land to grow their own
cattle and sheep (they took in lease an enclosure and open grazing
land in Malaga district (with a salary to the farmer of 6 onzes a
In the meantime the number of the boarding students kept growing: in
1780-81, three years after the
opening, were 63, coming, especially, from Ucria, Ficarra,
Militello, Cerami; 66 in 1781-82
coming also from Castelbuono, Capizzi, Mirto, Sperlinga, Galati
Mamertino, Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Tortorici, Raccuia, Mistretta,
Valguarnera, S. Salvatore di Fitalia, Caprileone, S. Marco, Caronia,
Two years after, in 1883, Ignazio Capizzi died at
Palermo in the Olivella convent’, where he was living;
the humble priest after the inauguration of the College very few
times came to Bronte as he was sure to have entrusted it to people
and priests not only honest and able but profoundly committed to the
success of the institute.
After twenty years, in 1796-97, the boarders were already 195.
The library was stocked with other books and the internal chapel with
It was built also a little theatre which was afterward lost.
Were also built other school rooms and dormitories.
To the boarding students, besides the catechism and the daily mess,
were not suggested further religious practices. The start of the lessons was fixed at the 15 of October and the end at the 31st of
August; holyday every Thursday afternoon and from the 1st of
September to the 14th of October.
The College had to bear considerable cost,
for the food of the boarders.
Everything had to be bought
in localities often distant from Bronte and middlemen had to be sent,
during harvest, in the various places of production of the goods to
It is hard to imagine the long chain of mules that
used to wind through the roads up to the far towns of the Nebrodi.
That also implied the preparation of space adapt to this use.
In other words the College became in little
time a source of work not only for the internal employee
but also for a large number of workers to whom it was insured a job
and economic tranquility.
It was produced this way in Bronte a welfare never seen before.
From 1805 to 1807 the
fourth wing of the College was built.
The works were resumed after the pause
of 1820-21 with the expense of 238 onzes for the construction of the
The 1st of November 1846 was started the new chapel
costing 314 onzes including the contribution of 12 tarì per year
requested to every boarding student.
The immediate success of the College (in 20 years the initial 37
boarders of 1778 became 195 in 1797) was also due to the ability
of the management adapted to the scholastic field,
abreast of time, updating and increasing
teaching subjects, that is surpassing the old scholastic
schemes so usual, at the time, in the Jesuitical colleges.
Starting in 1778, by decree of King Ferdinand,
with teaching of reading and writing, humanity and rhetoric; in 1782-83
rhetoric is separated from humanity and two new distinct professors
In 1808 the subjects had become ten: reading and writing, 2nd
class, 4th minor and 4th major, humanity, rhetoric, philosophy,
theology, to which in 1810 was added singing.
In 1837, when the name was changed in "Real Bourbon
College", was introduced a normal method and the class of
reading and writing was called "school of the young ones";
was added the teaching of Italian language while the theology was
divided in dogmatic and moral.
In 1850 was taught Italian literature, eloquence, geography and
French; four years later. canon law, mathematics, calligraphy and,
in 1864, physics.
Certainly, the facts that in that period shocked Italy and Europe
and the donation made by Ferdinand IV in 1799 of the brontese
territory to admiral Horatio
Nelson, had a negative influence on the life of the College:
the conditions of the brontese people worsened and the Council bled
itself white in continue court cases to defend its own rights with
an increasing internal conflicts between middle class and farm
laborers that eventually culminated in the terrible facts of 1848
and of 1860.
How not to hold against the light and see the difference between the
Dukedom and the College:
there only economic interests, sometime inequitable and oppressive,
here the banner of culture and social elevation of the people,
radiated even in lands not close to Bronte.
With the Italian unity the state centralization caused more crisis
to the College: in 1863-64 the
boarders gets down to 134 and
the school fee rises to 24 onzes, in 1883
the institute reaches a minimum of 50 students.
same year, with the introduction of petrol lighting, were installed
in the corridors, in the refectory and in the dormitories 62 crystal
lights and was perfected the last quarter of the College at a cost
of 226 onzes.
In 1892 the College was entrusted
to the Salesians who lasted until 1914.
In the same year
the rector don
Giuseppe Prestianni (one of the well deserving founders
of our civic Hospital ) made restore and complete
The paving of the entire institute was done again in
cement and all the original flight of steps in lava stone and bricks
replaced with marble. Against the advice of the eng Caselli, that
wanted to reassemble the architectonic unity of the College, was
erected also a new edifice to be used as shops and houses to let.
«This way, wrote Benedetto
Radice, submitting the
beauty to the useful, speculation killed aesthetics».
Towards the middle of the XIX century, being increased the number of
the boarders some corridors were restructured and changed to
After the construction of Bronte’s aqueduct, in 1940, the College was
provided with a very modern plant of bathrooms and showers.
Few years later, in July 1943, the Capizzi College was occupied by the
military authorities and used as a hospital, was partially damaged
by the disastrous bombing of the allied forces while a corner of it
was blown up, with mines, by the Germans.
The twenty years
commitment, from 1945 to 1966, of the new rector, father Giuseppe
Calanna and his deputy, father Giuseppe Zingale, was responsible for
its renewal and its recovery.
His rector ship, that lasted until few years ago, when because of
changed social-cultural conditions, the educational institute and
the boarding school were shut down, represents more than a quarter
of the long and fascinating history of the College.
Rapidly the boarders, from counting only thirty during the war, went up to 160.
All the parts damaged by the bombing were rebuilt, the new internal
areas were restructured, the dormitories, the gym, the kitchens, the
hygienic services were renovated, and the refectory and school rooms
And, finally, the rector Calanna and his deputy, father Zingale, succeeded in achieving an old desire of all the
people of Bronte: the transfer, after 211 years from his death, of
the remains of the Ven. Ignazio Capizzi from Palermo to Bronte where
they rest from the 17th of April 1994.
The Capizzi was built by the
people with the contribution of the Bourbon sovereigns
("Populus aedificavit, Rex dotavit",
was written on a tombstone placed on the front of the college).
Because of this was called Bourbon College from the initial name of
House; subsequently, in 1848, on initiative of the abbot
Giuseppe Castiglione, equal of the kingdom, the Sicilian Parliament
called it "National College"; after the unity of
Italy still changed name in that of "Real Capizzi College".
And such remained till today.
to the illuminated direction of a few cultured rectors Giuseppe
Saitta, Giacomo Biuso, Francesco
and the work of teachers like Luigi Pareti and Vincenzo
Schilirò, the College became in
centuries the most important cultural center of Eastern Sicily
(think that in 1845 the number of the boarders was reaching
300, almost 400 in 1851).
In the Capizzi College for over two centuries, was formed a
good part of the Sicilian managing class. In 1886, in the Italian Parliament, the Minister Longhi
defined it "forum of the Latinism".
Bronte and the south owes so much to the humble priest Ignazio Capizzi and to the college that he wanted: from
'700 to nearly all the 800, the Capizzi College, which in
those centuries had become the big forge of Sicilian knowledge,
shaped a country town fecund of illustrious personalities;
formed an impressive line of "elected intelligences",
famous prelates, pious men , philosophers, Latin poets,
jurists and economists, famous doctors.