Engaged the master carpenter Giuseppe
Lupo, and given to him all the necessary drawings, the work
The Capizzi himself came
to Bronte, staying at the Capuchin convent, and placed
the first stone the 1° May 1774.
Not withstanding the many difficulties, the works proceeded with alacrity and
a short time after were already completed the basement, the refectory,
the kitchens and the first floor.
In April of the 1777 many rooms were
finished but the works proceeded till 1778, when, on the 15 of October,
(four years after the placing of the first stone), finally the new school was
All this was not an easy task:
Capizzi had to overcome lots of obstacles, ironies, clashes and calumnies of
every kind; he had to beg everywhere for the necessary recourses; In the end
he had the support of everybody.
"Many gentlemen of Palermo, affectionate to him, gave him vast
sums, ... the wealthy ones in Bronte and of near country towns
contributed generously at the construction. The priests, the
nobles, all the people, having been asked, were carrying stones
and every other material on their shoulders". (G. De Luca, History of the town of Bronte)
On the 18 April 1778
King Ferdinand issued a decree by which the erection of the public
schools in Bronte, at the expenses of the Archiepiscopal Table Of
Monreale, had to comprise five schools: arithmetic, lower and
superior grammar, philosophy and theology.
In September were ready all the rooms for the school, the refectory,
the kitchen and the first floor for the boarders and the superiors.
With a deed drawn by the notary Abbadessa, Ignazio
Capizzi nominates the first superiors of the College:
Rector the priest Placido Minissale, Visitors dean Placido Diner,
External Vicar priest Bernadette Verso and the Confessor of the
Santa Scholastic monastery; Deputies the priests G. Puccini and
Puerto Oscillator, The baron V. Meli and Carlo
D. F. Galvan.
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
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).