One of the most unique and ancient buildings of the historic center of Mineo is currently hosting the “Luigi Capuana culture Circle”. Its elegant facade and the location in clear view in the main square of the country, make it a destination for curious and admirers of beauty, interested in knowing what it is and what role to play in Mineo context. The current appearance of the “Circle” is the result of some transformations that took place over time, as can be seen from old photographs that show differences occurring in a bygone era. As for the interior, we know that the spaces have had significant changes in the past and were organized differently.
About the history of the club and who belonged to them are located in the documents that are stored at the members care. The “Circle” is a private fellowship, with its own statutes and management body formed by the Deputation of three members, one of them with the position of president, assisted by a secretary and a treasurer. The existence of the “Circle” in Mineo, under various names changed over time, dates to 1841. The building was previously used as a station of the local guards and housed at the inside also a small prison. In its rooms some notables of the country – including a young Luigi Capuana – secretly met in 1859, to form a committee favorable to the Unification of Italy, as evidenced by the minutes of a session.  In June 1860 the Committee addressed to all the whealty people of Mineo, asking for material contributions to the aid of the military expedition led by Garibaldi and landed at Marsala a month earlier. 
One of the first photos that we can look back to the second half of the nineteenth century and probably was created by Luigi Capuana, who loved to depict the native land and bring the pictures with him when he was away. Unfortunately it is quite ruined, but we see too that at that time the building – always preceded by a terrace of its pertinency – had only one central entrance and two openings raised at the sides, with protective railing can look out from the inside. The central door was protected by two large wooden doors, which were shut in the evening by the service staff.
An extraordinary picture, perhaps slightly later era, is the work of Capuana. A large crowd of people occupying all the spaces of the square and the balconies of the houses, the people are divided by social class and gender, as the most elegant groups and the ladies are separated from the mass of the people. In front of the entrance to the “Circle” two large wreaths, maybe placed at a celebration called “Festival of the Fatherland.” They also see two lamp posts in the courtyard, visible until a few years ago when they were shot down by bad weather and since then they have not been more recovered, there are only the pedestals standing.
It is September 7, 1901 when Corrado Guzzanti, great seismologist friend of Capuana and he too photographer, portrays the “Circle” in a beautiful image which comes to us in good condition. The color of the facade is white and is clearly noticeable in the top six circular elements in stone, decorations representing ancient coins dating back to the greek period. The long balaustrade in the foreground shows that at the time there was no actual steps, but the difference in height in the square was sharp and therefore needed a barrier. And later she has been removed, together with the many changes that have produced a significant expansion of the square as we see it. Further urban expansion remained only on paper: it is a topic which will be discussed on another occasion. In the foreground we see farmers and growers, dressed according to the customs of the time.
The following year G. Stanganelli make that snapshot, not much different from the previous one, but more defined and in which we see very distinct form of the two street lamps, cast iron and three arms, perhaps fueled by gas or kerosene lights placed inside lamps. On the terrace overlooking the caretaker at the time, Mr. Mario Simili, still young and that we will see in later photographs. As in previous images, we see that the lunette above the main entrance was closed with a wooden panel, until later will be installed in its place a glass with colored segments.
At last we can see the internal environment, photographed April 21, 1905 – perhaps by Luigi Capuana? – with a group of members at the time. From left standing: 1 Vincenzo Di Salvo; 2 Janitor Mr. Mario Simili; 3 Croce Albertini; 4 Geom. Messina; 5 Anonymous; 6 Dr. Santi Cocuzza; 7 Giovanni Di Salvo. From left sitting: 8 Vincenzino Guzzanti; 9 Enrico Tamburino; 10 Dott. Giuseppe Blandini; 11 Dott. Antonio Balba (with children); 12 Tax Collector Dr. Cremona; 13 Attorney Reg. Mazzone; 14 Francesco Curti; 15 Avv. Giuseppe Mazzone; 16 Ten. Scarpuzza; 17 Teacher Costanzo. The wall of the main room, with its columns, are hung two portraits probably the Savoy rulers.
When he was in Mineo, Capuana Luigi frequented the “Circle” and there we met some of his friends of the place. To them the writer once, being away from the country for business reasons, in 1877 he sent a special message attached to his story Iana. The story was dedicated to Sebastiana Conti, daughter of his peasants and acquaintances whom he had fallen in love with a boy identifying yourself pure symbol of love, inserted later in some novels – Iela, Evolution – and in whose honor the writer celebrated every year , March 25. 
The same Luigi Capuana wanted to represent himself at one step in 1908, which almost looks like a picture painted, surrounded by a few members – among which is also his cousin – posing in the act of conversing or reading the newspaper. From left: 1 Anonymous; 2 Luigi Capuana; 3 Pharmacist Capuana; 4 Pharmacist Toro; 5 Dr. Pitari. The table is still there, it survived the depredations of the places during the last war, and what looks like a door is actually a converted closet in the wall, with some shelves. Also this photo was taken in the hall of columns, on the left side with the light coming from the entrance and from the prospectus openings.
Let’s go back outside of the “Circle”, with a picture dating from ca. 1923, of which we do not know the author. In the aspect of the places there has been a noticeable change: major architectural works have led to the downward movement of the two side openings, so transformed in additional inputs. The wooden panel above the central input has been replaced with a glass bezel. Note also the marble plaque to the left of the entrance, surmounted by wreath and dedicated to a social and fell during the First World War, with national flags on display for the occasion. The text of the plaque is the following:
Proudly equal to regret
the civil casino
recalls the socio
Lieutenant Giuseppe Ciancico
twice decorated for bravery
that thriving giovinezzza
fell – to 0 93 – Rock of Monfalcone
for the largest Italy
He died a hero
He lives in glory
Mineo in the fifth anniversary
[4 November 1923]
We come to 1926, with two photographs taken probably a short distance and with a nice group of partners. In the first you see below: Dr. Carcò. Sitting at the center, from left: Mr Zimbone, Lawyer. Similar, Dott. Giuseppe Stanganelli, Dr. Sidoti. Standing, from left: Canon Scrofani; Mr Mario Simili, waiter; Dott. Giuseppe Blandini; anonymous; Don Turiddu Human; Dr. Human; Silvestro Simili; anonymous; Don Pepé Barone; anonymous; Mr Vincenzo Messina. In the right corner, behind the table, part of the big mirror that is still present in the room, always at the same place.
The second image includes roughly the same characters, but arranged differently inside the hall of columns, always on the left side in front of a large portrait of Vittorio Emanuele III on the wall. Bottom: Mr Zimbone. Seated, from left: Lawyer. Simili, Dott. Giuseppe Stanganelli, Dr. Sidoti. Standing, from left: Don Pepé Barone; Dr. Human; Mr Mario Simili, waiter; anonymous; Dr. Carcò; Mr Vincent Messina; Don Turiddu Human; Dott. Giuseppe Blandini; Silvestro Simili; anonymous; anonymous.
A later advent of the Fascist regime, the main square of Mineo is increasingly common place for gatherings, youth rallies and political demonstrations of support for the regime as can be seen in an image of 1937, with the “Circle” used to serve stage to the civil and military authorities intervened and the public that is collected in the space in front of the terrace, in neat and proper respectful distance file.
The Authorities of the fascist party, in order to give maximum visibility and prestige to the national government representatives – which in mayor their designated administrator but has branches in a number of side organizations such as the trade guilds – identified in the “Circle” the seat ideal to install the “Casa del Fascio”, similar to what was happening in all the municipalities of Italy. Documents of the time show a certain resistance on the part of members, it continued for several years until almost by force does not take place and so the appropriation on the facade is placed a large sign that we can see in a picture of the thirties, probably a postcard .
Following the war, the conflict during the Anglo-American landing in Sicily – in July 1943 – has killed the young Vittorio Blandini. He was the son of one of the most famous members of the “Circle”, Dr. Giuseppe Blandini who had worked so hard to celebrate the figure of Luigi Capuana with the construction of the monument in Piazza Buglio. The members a few years later remember this sacrifice with a plaque, built on the model of the previous and symmetrically placed on the facade of the building with the following text:
lieutenant tank crewman
Mineo 22.1.1916 11.7.1943 Comiso
piloting a light tank
faced motocorazzate forces
enemy flaring in his
steel coffin into flame
His generous sacrifice
we recall every day
the sacred duties of tomorrow.
The Circle L. Capuana
an eternal reminder of the shareholder
After the war, the building was acquired by the State Property. The members of the time, however, shall initiate the process and obtain the return of their powers, with a favorable judgment obtained in 1949.
The writer of origins menenine Giuseppe Bonaviri (1924-2009), then twenty years old, he left us an amusing and ferocious portrait of the “Circle” dated 1944, which updates and partly confirms the descriptions made some decades earlier by Capuana:
Surrounded with a railing that will have some half a century on, with three rooms all stained where they rest a couple of armchairs unstitched who will know the history of a few thousand of bedbugs families, with a large library of thirty, forty dusty and yellowed books, you see rising in Piazza Buglio, majestic and terrible, the Casino of Civilians: the most beautiful zoo that Sicily knows.
The respectable mineoli (poor people who have never crossed the threshold of the third grade) look at that temple with respectful reverence, and though in their heart feel something bitter, they never wanted to profane it with their feet that smell of earth and flowers. In there, they had always told by their grandparents, they are the Signoroni that can create out of nothing all things. And so, to traditional custom, repeating their young who are you to feel with the little mouth half open and eyes wide open, adding that whenever they meet, you have to take off his cap, just like you do when you come to church, and say “Voscenza, kiss hands!” And they really are, so to say, of those rare beasts that illuminate the Civil Casino. Just imagine, my children (I speak well for the great experience I), which, among them, there are also those who have studied in Catania (or Athens, had they lived a couple of centuries ago) and now they are schoolteachers and also (I make my face white with emotion) avvocatucci who spend their lives following what you bicker. And then I do not tell you that give luster to our country so far away from civilian lands, with their mentacce full of good things and with all their great works that almost touch the sky.
You have to see them, in the hot afternoons of July or August, sitting in their open space, all in a row, like so many ministers who talk about how to bring up the masses or how lenir the suffering of these hours, you have to see them take the ice cream (not today they take them because very constant) with such divine grace (and then they say that the gods are just in heaven) as to gape at all the poor mineoli they look with contemptuous scowl!
Writes, 913 
After the war, the systemic crisis of the landowner and land reform push the bourgeois class of Mineo abandonment of the country in favor of major centers, Sicilian capitals or big cities of the Continent. The social struggles and the consensus growth sinister help create an unfavorable climate for some, as evidenced by the hammer and sickle and the words “W Nenni” painted on the facade of the Circle in a photo shoot during a Palm Sunday of the Fifties . It was almost an ideal challenge to the old bosses … that actually locally no longer existed. The place, even the “Circle”, was left to other upstarts no less greedy than those who had preceded them, but perhaps even more ignorant and narrow-minded because of their modest origins united blind all’arrivismo.
The Buglio square, the center of life and meetings, is filled with demonstrators, called by opposition parties, calling for better conditions for the work of farm laborers. No shortage of hostile indications and insults aimed at the “Circle” that even someone wanted to eliminate and destroy as annoying symbol of ancient feudal oppression. It recalls in this respect the phrase “To make the square the square, you have to break down this gate!”, Referring to the balcony railing in front of the entrance. In fact many of the protesters have already prepared the suitcase under the bed. In successive waves disappear from Mineo entire families, rightly attracted by more favorable prospects in northern Italy, Switzerland, Germany and even in the US, to the emigration to Australia. Not back anyone but as an old man with hopes of a peaceful old age in his native country. Or dead, to have at least the late satisfaction of the burial places of origin, hated and regret at the same time.
The “Circle” survives thanks to class-collar Christian Democrats, realizing meetings and parties in a country still without other facilities dedicated to conviviality. There were some photos of a New Year’s party, dated to the late fifties. In the first image they are recognizable in the foreground, partially from behind Teresa Messina in Carbone and Avv. Messina wife. Messina. Right Guido Marletta, Praetor in Mineo and Mrs. Maria in Francesconi (bailiff). The second image shows some of the participants to the already festive with champagne bottles in hand and shows in the foreground in Mrs. Maria Francesconi, deeper Pino Ialuna, a doctor. To the right you see Gianbenedetto Carcò, with his son Luigi Carcò in the foreground. The third and final image that you could find, recovery in the environments of the “Circle” at the time of the midnight toast, in addition to the already identified people on the left depicts Mrs. Costa, and the person at the bottom with a scarf and the hat is Paolo Carcò.
During holidays recurring in Mineo, they could show off elegant clothes and show signs of a certain relative well, given the context of the village still deeply tied to rural life and in quite poor and overall backlog. Here we see in the foreground Santa Carcò in Ialuna in e Maria Simili in Damigella, on the left at the bottom Teresa Messina in Carbone, in the sunny terrace of the “Circle” for the Easter holidays.
The worldliness of the period in Mineo was very close to the events of the “Circle”, for which they returned occasionally personalities long since moved elsewhere for work, as in the case of the Prefect Rizzo and his wife. They lent themselves willingly to attend ceremonies for the benefit and pride of the local political references, like this meeting very festive and attended an awards ceremony for young people. Among the large number of those present that you can recognize in the pictures there are many characters of Mineo of that time, as the teacher Agrippino Costa and Mr. Bellino.
In the early sixties we will be done other work within the “Circle”, to achieve the secondary room where space was first divided into several smaller rooms. It remembers a wooden structure with steps now disappeared, while for the furniture are still present billiards and libraries, with the small library of the “Circle” containing mainly novels and narrative in addition to important hardbound collector’s edition of the magazine “L’Illustrazione Italiana”.
The great hall obtained by the demolition of interior partitions allow managers of “Circle” to organize parties with more guests. Of those events remain some photographic evidence, such as some images of a carnival party in 1986. The large dining room is decorated and used for dancing by the participants, dressed up with all kinds of clothes. Carnival was a heartfelt celebration in the country and for which were organized also parades of floats, set up and decorated for the occasion.
So far we have seen some evidence of how the “Circle” has played its role in the country in decades. It will be dealt with separately the most recent period, which saw innovative proposals in the context of greater cultural and social commitment, with many initiatives to the community and no longer restricted to exclusive circles, as it was in the past.
1 – See. Leone Venticinque (eds.), 1859.09.20 – I congiurati di Mineo [20/09/1859 – The conspirators of Mineo], “the Circle”, in June 2012, n. 9, pp. 1-2. The text of the report is as follows:
The year one thousand eight hundred fifty-nine. The day September 20 in Mineo.
Having to comply with higher-order transmitted for the purpose sed herein, after careful investigation, and diligent scrutiny used by those who had the same confidence. They are two of the Ore evening gathered at the foot Gentlemen signed in number nine citizens.
I like each other have come to know that the object of the gathering is obliged to form a Committee of Secret Correspondence Management to open with committees of all Sicily, that is with the committee or committees of the island, which will be obliged to communicate or receive meanings in the sense having to use for the Risorgimento of our nation with all ordinarj means, estraordinarj, moral and material that they need to necessarj, so that it came at last to lift the misfortune of a people reduced to horrible slavery with appropriate and salutary reforms.
The Lords Components Session, first with each other operation in solitary site locked up no stranger to the legality of the form, and representation at year unanimously appointed Chairman of the Meeting Mr. Pietro Vita and Secretary Mr. Alessandro Ballarò. Which cordially accepted the respective assignment, educated as they are of importance and gravity of it.
Mr. President state at Assembly finding that it constituted in Secret Committee, for now, the purpose of the above expressed, it was essential to begin from this, that each of the components is binding on the inviolable sanctity of the oath to keep absolutely secret, to any person who did not belong to the session, what will come to be practiced, any news, knowledge, fact, or resolution, which essentially attenesse the sessions, and the resolutions that will be by the Committee to take, or who were gradually revealed, and at the same time each of the Committee judge eziandio strive with all our strength to the success of divisamento to go to freedom of the Commune Fatherland, without a trace of self-interest, or individual pretension. All components in the hands of Mr. President take an oath one after another fulfilling exactly, and with all scruple what is required from them, and then all in agreement, including the President, had repeated oath.
Successively the President said that the great purpose of all Committees of Sicily, which this Committee contributes, there is no statement of political principle, for the moment, and just everyone is committed to the common liberty.
Considering the high mission which he is called;
Whereas pending the difficulty of the times can not keep permanent session;
Considering the trust that needs Mr. President;
Whereas the homeland demands sacrifices of the resolution unanimously:
First – That recognizes its formation and existence, for political freedom, social security, law and order.
Second – That is granted to the President of the correspondence with the Committee or Committees which will be necessary to keep communication, saves the extraordinary convening of the session when he is required by the needs, and which may be at any time, and now according to the circumstances, on request the President.
Third – That the Committee is ready to perform as may be imposed from superior Authority which it is subject for the purpose of his education. And consequently s’assoggetta to all those personal sacrifices, and other, which could esigersi the circumstances, and the imperiousness of the times, looking for all the most rigorous silence.
These minutes hath closed after being read at all decision-making components, and hath signed.
Pietro Vita President
Canon and parish priest Salvatore Carcò
Giuseppe Monaco Guzzanti
Alessandro Ballaro Secretary
2 – Leone Venticinque (eds.), 1860.06.14 – Cavalli, stoffe e denari di Mineo per il Generale Garibaldi [06/14/1860 – Horses, clothes and money Mineo for General Garibaldi], “the Circle”, in June 2012, n. 9, p. 8. The text of the statement is as follows:
[On the sheet is the stamp of the “Committee of the Municipality of Mineo”]
Subject – Appointment of the Commission for contributions of horses, canvas, and money.
Components – Bar. Dr. Francesco Spadaro Ferreri; Vincenzo Tamburino; Antonio Capuana; Vincenzo Ciancico; Canon Francesco Mazzone; Antonio Mazzone; Giovanni Politi; Giacomo Mazzone; Corrado Muratore; Tommaso Carcò; Santi Cocuzza; Patrizio Simili.
To Mr. [to be filled in with the recipient’s name, editor’s note]
Mineo, there June 14, 1860
The Committee by resolution of today has named the cons listed individuals to form in the Commission so that, running de ‘decrees of dictator S.E. General Garibaldi, will cooperate to promote the municipality a contribution that gives for every thousand inhabitants a horse with necessarii requirements of cavalry and sixty canvas cammice reeds; in addition ascribes a contribution in attendant money for the purchase of the nation’s weapons.
The prescegliendo Committee’s Commission for use cennato these individuals intended to affect many of the healthy part of the country to a cooperation in government mire facilitates the successful outcome of the war, and this can not fail in his wisdom highly praised and appreciated philanthropic competition for the national Cause.
3 – The image is taken from “The Circle”, n. 2, November 2011, p. 19. See. Also Vincenzo Paolo Traversa, Luigi Capuana critic and novelist, Paris – The Hague, Walter de Gruyter, Mouton, 1968, pp. 10-11; Pietro Vetro, Luigi Capuana, Catania, Studio Editoriale Moderno, 1922, p. 16; Corrado Di Blasi, Luigi Capuana: vita, amicizie, relazioni letterarie [Luigi Capuana: life, friendships, literary relations], Mineo, Edizioni Biblioteca Capuana, 1954, p. 52.
4 – 913 (Giuseppe Bonaviri), The Casino of Civilians, “Zufoletto Paesano”, n. 2, August 13, 1944. Republished in “The Circle”, n. 2, November 2011, pp. 25-27. The “Zufoletto Paesano” is published in Mineo for two months, August and September 1944, on a weekly basis. Main initiative animator is Giuseppe Bonaviri, who calls himself “913”. Other collaborators are Salvatore Passante (“51”) and Agrippino Zimbone (“23”). The print run of only five copies, typed by Giacomo Aloisi for the cost of twenty-five lire. Main donors are Mrs. Rosa Carta – which helps with ten lire – and the local Chamber of Labour, providing the other ten lire.