A short History of Bronte
The cards, the places, the memory ...
Bronte's history, together
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The cholera epidemic
The Cholera epidemic
August 28 of 1887 up to the beginnings of December of the same year,
as in other zones of Italy, also in Bronte a violent cholera epidemic
Because of the cholera epidemic, with royal provision the
Municipal Council was dissolved and an Extraordinary Delegate
was nominated for such a period, with full powers, the lawyer Giuseppe
Sorge. (Benedetto Radice writes that "the
mayor and the assessors run away").
To the Scialandro it was built, a suitable Municipal
Lazaretto with wooden tables and instituted economic kitchens
to shelter both the sick brontese persons that did not have the means to
cure themselves in their own homes and who, coming from near towns did not
have an accommodation.
To facilitate the night transit in the roads for those courageous ones
that were nursing the sick, the lighting was kept up till dawn.
The number of street cleaners was increased, it was forbidden to let pigs
and hens wander in the streets or keep them in the houses and to throw in
the streets "materie immonde" (filthy
matters), that infected and make the air stink.
Bronte, with a population of about 20.000
inhabitants had, in that year, 552
cases of cholera and over four hundred
Please out in Between those that distinguished themselves during the
raging of the disease, helping the population, challenging dangers and
wariness are worth remembering: the historian Benedetto Radice,
the doctor Filippo Isola, Arcidiacono
(commissary to hygiene), dr. Miraglia (director
of the sanitary office), dr. Licciardelli (director of the Lazaretto), the
assessor Avv. De Luca, Mariano Lo Turco, Serafino Venia, Giacomo Barnabas,
Mons. Dusmet (archbishop of Catania), the Members of Parliament
Finocchiaro Aprile and De Felice, the Duke Nelson (who put a large amount
of wheat at disposal of the Council), dr. Vincenzo Cervello.
An image of old Bronte taken from the "History of the city of
Bronte" by father Gesualdo De Luca (Milan, San Giuseppe typography,
The church and the convent of San
Vito are visible (to the right on top ), the Church
Of The SS.
Trinità (the matrice, at the center) and the church
of Annunziata (on the left).
This last, distinguished professor of medical chemistry, named by the
government, during the cholera epidemic,
sanitary director for the
provinces of Messina and Catania, deserved also the gold medal as well
deserving of the public
health (a hospital in Palermo has been entitled to
In that "mournful" year end 1887 was just ceased the terrible
cholera epidemic little and were already beginning
the first hotbeds of smallpox and the malarial fevers.
The causes, besides the natural factors, were to be
attributed, above all, to lack of hygiene.
«In fact often the population drinks water from
the wells which were near to permeable cesspools"; the habit to throw
the "garbage" in the streets, with the consequence to cause the
pollution of the underground water table, principal cause of all
infectious diseases» (relation to the Council of Bronte red,
in the session of 11.26.1887, by the royal extraordinary delegate avv.
regard to another previous choler epidemic shown itself in Bronte
thirty years before, in 1857, we want to take back from oblivion what was told by Eduardo
Cimbali in the book "Pregiudizi o gli amici del
(Prejudices or the friends of cholera) (Rome, 1912, pagg.
"A certain common man, nicknamed Scoglio, was
prejudicially considered by the same fellow villagers, a cholera
spreader (similarly of the "untori" of manzonian memory).
Ferociously persecuted everywhere, he begged the local authorities, to
put him in prison as "captive volunteer" in order to escape
the horrible persecution.
At least, he believed so.
Months later, when the epidemic had ended he wanted to be let out free
Should have never done it!
One day, in a countryside road, he was met, accidentally, by a good
number of citizens who started to stone him tom death.
Realizing that was lost, he drew some bread from his knapsack, started
to crumble it spouting the crumbs in their direction and loudly
shouting: "run away or I'll poison you!!, run away"!
The group, wrong footed by the gesture and the words of
the Scoglio, retreated but when reassembled decided to kill a such a
wicked and pitiless man.
Then, overcoming the fright they had felt earlier, ran back again
throwing stones at him until he, badly hit, fell to the ground and died."