In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the 1/4 cup warm water; set aside for 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy. Stir in the 1 cup water, the 1 tablespoon melted butter, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, beat in enough flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a slightly sticky dough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size (45 to 60 minutes).
Punch dough down. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds. For 1 of the portions, knead in the oregano. Shape the oregano dough into a ball. Repeat with the 2 remaining portions using the thyme and rosemary. Cover the three herb-flavored balls and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a very large baking sheet.
Shape each portion into a 20-inch-long rope, tapering the ends of the ropes. To shape, place the 3 ropes 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Starting in the middle, loosely braid the ropes of dough by bringing the left rope under the center rope. Next bring right rope under new center rope. Repeat to the end. On the other end, braid by bringing alternate ropes over center rope to center. Press ends together to seal; tuck them under the loaf.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (about 45 minutes). Brush the braided loaf with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle top with Parmesan, if you like.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top with your fingers. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf (16 servings).