What kind of place was Bronte? Nobody knew anything about it. The community was located on the remote, western side of Mount Etna: it was a beautiful spot with commercial potential but it was also isolated, dangerous and unfriendly. The town was filled with poor peasants who were oppressed by a few rich landowners; the whole area was threatened by regular volcanic eruptions and outbreaks of disease (notably, malaria); and the Duchy headquarters at Maniace, where the British planned to live, had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and never rebuilt again. The community also enjoyed a dubious reputation for violence and savagery.
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