After reading a post about Free Things to Do in Rome from fellow blogger Jessica at Italylogue.com, I couldn’t resist commenting on one of my favorite places – free or not – in all of the Eternal City: the Protestant Cemetery. Then I thought I should also share this tip with Italofile readers, too.
The Protestant Cemetery, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, is located behind the grand Pyramid or, in Italian, Piramide, itself a burial site for Roman magistrate Gaius Cestius who died around 12BC. Surrounded by tall trees, which miraculously drown out the din of Roman traffic just beyond the Pyramid, the well-kept cemetery is the final resting place of a few names from literature, notably John Keats (whose unmarked epitaph famously reads “Here lies one whose name was writ in water”) and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who died in a boating accident off the coast of Tuscany, but who wrote parts of Prometheus Unbound while living in Rome. Many expats and non-Catholic Italians have been laid to rest at the Protestant Cemetery and you can find lists of others buried there (ordered by name, nationality, etc.) by checking out these databases.
Indeed, it may seem a little morbid to spend time at a cemetery while in Rome. At the very least, it may seem odd to go out of one’s way to visit one of Rome’s least-visited (and certainly little known) sites. But, the Protestant Cemetery is just one of the many free things you can do in the Eternal City and is a great place to recharge your batteries after hours of dodging traffic and long lines.
Photo from the Protestant Cemetery website