«Culture Circle E. Cimbali» the present name of the club
It Is certain that the old "Casino of Civilians» or "Casino of the company of Civilians» (as was called by father Gesualdo De Luca in 1883), now called "Club Culture E. Cimbali", is one of the oldest associations in Sicily, and we can say that its story has been part and parcel of the recent history of Bronte.
We do not know the exact date of its foundation as any document on the history of the Casino of civilians was destroyed during two tragic events.
The first time during the Facts of August 1860, with the looting and fire set by the local populace, which, in revolt in Bronte, destroyed everything (In those tragic days 14 "Hats», or "civilians", including many members of the Club, were killed by an angry mob) and, subsequently, on the 5th of August 1943, with the bombing by the Allies, when the building collapsed, burying forever, among the ruins, any remaining historical records.
Most likely, (but ours is only a guess), the birth of the Casino of company of the civilians can be traced at the time of the White's Company, founded in Bronte in 1652 with the title of "the Brotherhood of SS Mary of the Rosary", to which could take part only "gentlemen of proven honesty."
The Company, in addition to other purposes of assistance, managed and administered a small hospital for the poor, which stood in the building which, historically, has always been the home of the club. With the legacy of Bronte's illustrious jurist and parliamentarian, Don Lorenzo Castiglione Pace, Baron of the White Stone, who died in November 1679, the directors and the presidents of the Society of the White Company built a new hospital, "on the ruins of the old one."
The building also became the new home of the company and some of its rooms, we think, also home to the Casino of company of the civilians.
For nearly a century, the Casino has changed its name, but the venue remains the same. Has not changed, however, the name of the steps leading into the terrace in front of the Circle: continues to be called Old Hospital street.
However, not having found certified documents, we call on writers and historians, from whom we learn that, already in the early 1800's, the Casino of conversation of the Civilians existed and was very popular.
About it peaks first Antonino Cimbali (Captain Death in 1848 and, later, lord mayor of Bronte) in Memories and letters to his children, (Rome, Bocca Bros Editors, 1903), in which he wrote that «the local used as barracks for the National Guard was a room, own by the City, adjacent to the Casino of conversation of the Civilians , and the sentry was told to walk along the common square of the Casino and the barracks».
The historian, Benedetto Radice (1854-1931, who was also president of the Club), in his Historical Memoirs of Bronte, (page 346 of
nour digital edition), wrote,at the beginning of '900, that in 1849 «the peasants used to dress in masks, for an ancient custom, bobbing up and running wild on the Square of the Casino of civilians, now E. Cimbali, since the populace, only in the days of Bacchus, was allowed to go there.
On that day, (carnival of 1848), to guard the club there were some ducal guards. Some of them, mindful of past riots, (riots of 1820, ed), began to mock and insult the poor masks, making fall some of them from the terrace to the street below.
The people who resented the Ducal, rose immediately to the challenge shouting: let's get weapons, and death to traitors.
Everyone ran to his house to get axes, clubs, rifles and crowding the casino. Immediately arrived the Cimbali (Antonino, ed) to quell the tumult, and with soft words, threats and some beatings did thin out the threatening crowd.»
Yet Radice, in telling the tragic events of August 1860, writes that "around noon (of the August 2, 1860, ed.) the Square near the Casino of civilians, was boiling.
A wave of people were urging, fighting and screaming: We want the division of land. Meanwhile, in the Casino some civilians were trying to organize themselves, and there also appeared the notary Cannata armed with a shotgun. That appearance aroused in the crowd more murmur and outrage.»
The poor notary, a member of the Casino, suffered a few days later a terrible end along with his son and thirteen other civilians.
father Gesualdo De Luca, in his History of the City of Bronte (Milan, 1883, p. 203), writes of the devastation suffered by The Casino of Civilians: «Soon many of the civilians who wanted to flee, fled; and many slipped away accompanied by good and pious peasants; of whom the conspirators did not suspect. Even the ringleaders escorted some of them for their money, prayers and tears. (...) The conspirators came from the woods with their great hatchets.
At eleven of the day they arrived with arms at the S. Vito square, joining the robbers. The bell sounded the tocsin, and soon after the rebels, divided into two phalanxes, came down in the country town.
The biggest came down on the street of the Saints, on the left and halted several times, shaking for fear of possible fusillade from the houses of the rich. But when they arrived to the Casino of company of civilians, and found it evacuated, they were invaded by a feverish delirium, spoiling everything in that place and starting fire and looting.»
«Were burned the theater, the archives of the City Council and the Casino of civilians to which, for gash, were hanged bunches of ivy, ...» Radice adds (op. cit., P.. 383)
So it was a historical association the current Culture Club E. Cymbals, which can very well claim the title of being one of the oldest clubs in Sicily, even if the full ownership of the existing premises was officially acquired in 1889.
That year also disappeared the historic symbol of Casino of civilians replaced by a more modern name, "Culture Club».
In a period when in most of Sicily and in areas of Etna were rising leagues, federations, associations and brotherhoods, the new title was born with the act of July 7, 1889 prepared by the Notary Spedalieri with which the City of Bronte granted to a group of people some parts of the buildings.
A year later, in October 1890, the Congregation of Charity, the Society that took over the management of the Hospital and that, initially, wanted to evict the members, yielded the remaining part of the current premises in lease, (freed thirty years later, with an act by the notary Di Bella, on the 29nt of June 1920).
Disappeared the old name of Casino of the company of Civilians replaced by «Culture Club» but continued to be elitist and exclusive, and extremely limited the access to aspiring new members.
Those who could not join, all the excluded, in the early 1900s, could only join other associations in Bronte, grouped by wealth or profession, such as the Society of the People's Union, the Society of M. S. Annunziata, the Agricultural Society, the Christian Democratic League or the Peasants' League and the Society of Honest Workers.
«The Casino of civilians or of the nobles» - writes N. Lupo - was formed by wealthy landowners and professionals with very illustrious names such as De Luca, who gave birth to a cardinal, the Cimbali, the Pace, Saitta, Radice, Fernandez, Tovez, Grisley etc.. that produced lord mayors, congressmen, mayors, historians etc.. and then doctors, lawyers, notaries and pharmacists.
The others (such as clerks, merchants, craftsmen and small professionals) could not participate, and the peasants, who, often in the evening, had to confer with their masters, could not even cross the gate that leads to the terrace in front of the club.
On the 1st of January 1921 the club was named after Enrico Cimbali («Culture Club Enrico Cimbali»), an outstanding young jurist and professor of civil law in Italian universities (who died in Messina in 1887 at the age of 31 years only ). A few years later, with the advent of Fascism, trying to avoid closure and seizure of the premises, the leaders of the time, once again, replaced the name to "Circle of Littorio" or «House of Fascism.»