According to mythology, the origin of Bronte and its very name derive from the myth of the Cyclops, gigantic beings with a human semblance, symbol of the forces of nature.
Its founder would be the Cyclope Bronte, whose name means "thunder".
Bronte and his brothers Sterope ("lightning") and Piracmon ("burning anvil"), in the service of the god Vulcan, had been condemned to work at the forge of the god inside the bowels of Etna with the task of making the lightning of Jupiter and the weapons of heroes.
From a historical point of view, there is little certain information on the origins of the town and there are only a few ruins that bear witness to its ancient birth. According to some scholars, the origins are to be found in the history of the various territorial occupations of Sicily.
In particular, they would be attuned when the Sicilians, coming from the southern part of Italy, by force of arms, occupied part of eastern Sicily and relegated the Sicans to the western part of Etna. Here they would have founded Bronte.
Bronteis the place of the myth that surrounds history and becomes its symbol in literature. This was the name of one of the three cyclops who forged thunder and lightning for their father Zeus with the eternal fires of Etna.
He spoke, in poetic tones, Hesiod, which perhaps preceded Homer, they repeated the story of Virgil and Ovid in the most glorious years of Rome.
Bronte in Greek means "thunder" and seeing that his father Zeus was the god of lightning, nothing strange that one of his assistants was called "Rimbombo".
What then was one of the Cyclops and who lived in Etna depends on the creative poetics that allowed the ancients to give visible form to immaterial entities: the springs were beautiful nymphs, the hours were dancing girls and the thunder was a mighty giant.
In classical antiquity, no settlement was registered under the name of Bronte; the Arab Middle Ages, meticulously investigated by Michele Amari, does not register any village or farmhouse that has a similar name. There was, in the neighborhood, Maniace (Greek historical name), there was Bolo, complete with a castle, but not Bronte.
It rises from the mists only in the sixteenth century, with the renaissance flourishing, when to some scholar it would not seem true to give an epic name to the village that looked from the north to the mighty volcano.
The moment when Bronte conquered an international glory was the end of the Eighteenth century.
The Bourbons of Naples were in great difficulty before the advance of the Revolution. Queen Maria Carolina (sister of Marie Antoinette) strongly feared to make the same end of her sister on the guillotine. The Savoy had taken, not exactly willingly, the way of Paris. The Pope was a prisoner.
Everything seemed lost.
he queen, who was Austrian, daughter of Maria Teresa, sighed the tranquility of the Salzburg mountains, the peace of Graz: but how to come back?
King Ferdinand, who after the wedding had made a triumphal turn in Sicily (and he was raised in Catania the baroque arch that now is called Porta Garibaldi) was hoping to repair in Palermo. But how?
The British admiral Orazio Nelson intervened to save him, and he took over the sovereigns over the Vanguard and sailed towards Sicily. An infernal crossing (they were the last ones of December of 1799), the Austrian Maria Carolina was frightened, the king distraught, among the courtiers no one who knew how to resist, even the admiral was at the end.
A single person, a woman, challenged the elements, dominating the storm, serene among the waves, sure to give comfort to everyone: Lady Emma, wife of Sir William Hamilton, adventurous, charming with an upward poster on the commander. As if she had saved the royal family herself.
When the Revolution ended the royals did not know how to reward it: a set of diamonds with the words «eternal gratitude», two carriages full of clothes (at the expense of those ruined in the crossing), gifts for 6 thousand pounds of the time. And to the admiral the title of Duca di Bronte (annuity calculated 3 thousand pounds annually).
Thus the village passed from Greek to Napoleonic legend. And to English literature, given that the Irish Reverend of Irish origin Patrick O 'Prunty, in honor of the new duke, changed his surname to Bronte (the diaeresis to preserve the Italian pronunciation of -e) and his daughter Emily, literate like her sisters , still carries around the world the name of the Cyclope Etna in that novel, Cime tempestose, which is among the most read and studied romantic works.
[Sergio Sciacca, La Sicilia, 25 Luglio 2004]
"The first certain document, in which we find the Bronte farmhouse, is dated 1308: in the lists of those who collected the taxes on behalf of the pope we read this statement:" The priest Nicola of the Greek rite, of the Bronte farmhouse, paid 6 tarì ". It is obvious that this priest did not pay the tribute in a personal capacity, but as the manager of the farmhouse.
Therefore from this testimony we can affirm that at the beginning of the XIV century the Bronte farmhouse existed and the inhabitants were Greek Catholics, probably connected to the Byzantine population that survived the Arab domination.
Since we find this community in the early fourteenth century we must assume that it occupied that territory at least since the previous century »
(A. Longhitano, La Chiesa Madre e l'identità dei brontesi)