'The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.' So wrote the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) in the preface to Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats (1821).
Keats died in Rome on February 23rd, 1821, and was buried in what was then commonly called the Protestant, or English, Cemetery (Cimitero dei Protestanti or Cimitero degli Inglesi). A year and a half later, following his death by drowning off the Tuscan coast, Shelley joined his friend and fellow poet in the Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery), to give the place its proper name.
The small cemetery stands in the shadow of the ancient Pyramid of Gaius Cestius
(c. 12-18 BCE). The first recorded burial took place in 1716, but the earliest grave of which traces have been found is that of George Langton, who died in 1738. The earliest stone monument is that of George Werpup, who died in 1765.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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