Santo Stephano Di Briga
At the end of the summer of 2004 , Trudy and I, on separate trips , visited our
parents' home towns in Sicily. My father John and his brothers and sisters were
born in the small village called Santo Stephano di Briga
(map) . It
is nestled in the mountains (pic) outside of the city of Messina.
children in a small house in a small village did not have much choice but to
move on and seek their fortune elsewhere so the oldest sons emigrated to
America , like many Sicilian families before them. Consequently most of the
Busa family lives in this country and the only one
to remain is the eldest son of the youngest child Guieseppe or
"Peppino" Busa. He is a successful contactor living in Mili
Marina (map) on the coast a few miles from Santo
Stephano. However our cousins, Guieseppe and Gaetanno Mazzulo and their families still
live in the home
town and he gladly took me to meet them.
My mother Rosina and her family lived in the town of Santo
Margherita , a short distance from Santo Stephano. There her father
Dionisio Romano and mother Maria owned a small house and farm .Her
brother Giuseppe greatly expanded it in the late 1930's and
40's and grew many kinds of vegetables as well as lemons and olives
and sold his produce locally and in Messina. Rosina and her sisters Gaetanna,
Vincenza and Anna went to school and learned needlework and embroidery. In the
1950's Vincenza and Giuseppe , Zia Enza and Zio Pippo in the photographs,
brought their families to America and lived in Lexington. Anna and her father
Dionisio came in the 1960's.The farm and house were sold in the
sixties and the farming community is hardly recognizable today.
is a brief history of the town written by Emily Magazzu, a cousin of Peppino's
" It is believed that the origin of S. Stefano Briga
(map of town) was in 1061 under the
Norman conquest of Messina. Others
say that by this date that inhabitants were already here. People who
escaped from the tyranny of the Saracens and who wanted to live in peace and
quiet settled in the areas surrounding the streams of S. Stefano and Galati.
The first group people of about 30 to 40 people is noted in about 1100 when
they established a group of houses.
In 1144, the “Basiliani” monks founded the small monastery of Saint
Stephen. This religious order
dedicated themselves not only to prayer but also to agricultural work. They constructed a religious-agricultural community here.
Later Santo Stefano Briga was governed by the Duke De Spucches. This title was bestowed by Philip V to Agata Amato Cirino in Madrid on
July 13, 1705. It was carried out
on August 31, 1705. After
many centuries and by hereditary, the fief (feudal estate) passed into the
hands of of Santo Princess Vittoria San Martino Stefano Briga. She was born in Palermo on January 4, 1890.
She graduated from university with a degree in Law. On January 3, 1914 in Palermo, she married Prince Gabriele Alliata
Bazan of Villafranca. He
was the first child of Giuseppe and Marianna Bazan.
They had five children: Giuseppe, Francesco Raimondo, Eduardo and Gabriella.
They had inherited from their uncle Raimond, the Duke of Santo Stefano
Briga, a large part of the land surrounding the village of S. Stefano.
They were very able administrators and with the help of their village
farm collaborators and admirers.
Her official residence was the Mostri Palace in
Palarmo. Princess Vittoria came
to the Duke’s Palace (which is near S. Gaetano’s Church) in S. Stefano at
least once a year, usually in the autumn. She came to settle the accounts of the sharecroppers and farm laborers
who worked on her lands. The
villagers paid homage to her with gifts from the farms and land. She reciprocated by giving them as gifts handkerchiefs, shirts, various
kinds of fabrics. The women of
the village graciously accepted these gifts because at that time the villagers
certainly didn’t live a life of luxury. Rarely did she come in the summer.
The young princess became a widow while she was pregnant with her
daughter. Eduardo died very young
of polio. Her daughter Gabriella
died at the age of 20 of tuberculosis.
She remarried a Professor of Architecture of Palermo.
The princess was very attached to S. Stefano and
her people. She gave to the
Church a sculpture in wood of a deceased Christ. She died in Palermo on October 28, 1971.
Just about all her property including the Duke’s Palace
here in S. Stefano was sold by her children.
Today the Duke’s Palace is owned by Mr. Peppino
Mazzullo, who is the voice of the puppet “Topo Gigio”. He has restored it.
Santo Stefano di Briga was a commune within
itself until 1928. This
commune incorporated all the area from S. Stefano Briga, S. Stefano Medio, S.
Margherita, Giamplieri, and Galati. The
public records were destroyed in a fire and later the village became a part of
the commune of Messina as it is today. Today S. Stefano Briga has about 2,000