In 1799, King Ferdinand III, created Bronte as a Duchy, and rewarded admiral Horatio Nelson with the title of Duke for the help he had provided him in bloodily repressing the revolution in Naples and so in recovering his throne. As well as being made a Duke, Nelson was given Castello Maniace, which at the time was the remains of a Benedictine Monastery. The Castle passed into the Bridport family when the 1st Viscount Bridport married the then Duchess of Bronte, who was Admiral Nelson's niece. The Bridport's continued to live in the castle until 1982 when the current Viscount sold the property to the province of Catania. A recent book has been written about the Duchy: Nelson's Duchy: A Sicilian Anomaly by Michael Pratt. Today it is a local tourist attraction in Maniace yet has been run down since the family left.
In 1860, during Garibaldi's Expedition of the thousand, there was a riot. The peasants had hoped - and did not get from Garibaldi - an immediate relief from the grevious conditions to which they were forced by the landowners. They revolted in several localities, and at Bronte, on August 4, 1860, Garibaldi's friend Nino Bixio bloodily repressed one of these revolts with two battalions of Redshirts.
2003. The Duchy, was completely restored to its original splendor and it is now open to visitors and organised groups. Of particular interest are the rooms, the gardens and the old Church (M Nicolosi).