The Family Name, BRUCATO
by Paul Brucato
September 6, 1978
...Armed with one lone clue gleaned from my Baedecker's "Southern Italy", published in 1903, that reveals:
"The Aqua Cornelia, a Roman aqueduct to the South East of
Termini Imerese, was destroyed in 1438. Its remains from
BRUCATO downwards merit a visit."
I visited the above named city, Termini Imerese, in Sicily to seek further information. I was extremely fortunate to meet a Professor G. Navarra, who, not only was a fountain of information on Sicilian antiquities but also was gracious and patient in sharing what he had learned about the place named BRUCATO. Most of the facts that follow were contributed by Professor Navarra.
BRUCATO (Broccato,Brocato, Brugad, Burguad) was a large Islamic city near Termini Imerese on Mount Castellaccio. Burgad is an Arabic name meaning :
"place with much water around it with plenty of fruit and trees."
Although Professor Navarra believes this is probably correct another possibility would be the name “BRUCATO” means the place where the plant called Bruca (Tamarisk) grows, because this evergreen shrub still thrives on Mount Castellaccio.
As many through the ages acquired their surnames from the city or locale they inhabited (example, Leonardo da Vinci) it would be apropos at this point to trace the history of the city named “BRUCATO”.
BRUCATO was the name of a medieval locality within the confine of the townships of Sciarra and Termini Imerese mentioned for the first time in the tenth century and disappeared in the fourteenth century. It was located on a rocky mountain top shaped in a quadrangular fashion, detached from the eastern side of Mount San Calogero, and dominating the valley and the estuary of the Torto River.
The mountain was limited by rocky cliffs. However, it was gouged by gorges and consisted of various altitudes. This natural fortress was called “Mura Pregne”, while the highest level was called Monte Castellaccio.
One of the gorges was closed by a cyclopean wall (wall with one opening). Another one called the “Dragon’s Grotto” has disappeared but it was excavated by J. Bovio Marconi before 1936 and G. Mannini in 1966 and found furniture dating back from the sixth to the fourth centuries.
The entire plateau of the mountain is still surrounded by the remains of robust surroundings wall inside which are extended the solid structures of the “Castello,” or better yet, its ruins. The walls are thick enough and appear intermingled with brickwork and mortar.
Recent excavations reveal the remains of varied ages and the site was settled by indigenous inhabitants dating back to the Stone Age. Greek geometric ceramics mixed with the authentic Greek imported ones suggest it was influenced by the Greeks. At a later date. J. Bovio Marconi found Arabo-norman glazed ceramics on the summit of the Monte and along the flint-stoned and oxidized slopes, millstones and amber ornaments, rough achromatic ceramics, etched and painted belonging to a civilization preceding the founding of Imera (ancient Termini Imerese).
Peri, in his “Citta e Campagna in Sicilia” states that the historian Al-Mugaddasi speaks of Burgad in the second half of the tenth century.
In 1063 Ruggero, during the Norman Conquest of Sicily, took control of the Castle after a simple raid. Following this, the important fief of BRUCATO was held by members of the Royal House of Altavilla (from Normandy). Once it consisted of an extensive territory, but when the need arose the people shut themselves in the walled and fortified stronghold on Monte Castellaccio referred to as “BRUCATO” by modern historians. After things were settled, the fief of Brucato fell to Roberto.
In 1094, Ruggero made several concessions in favor of churches and monasteries and Roberto of Brucato endowed the Abbey of San Bartolomeo of Lipari.
BRUCATO reached its zenith of