The Protestant Cemetery, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico), is located behind the grand pyramid (Piramide), 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. John Keats‘ unmarked epitaph famously reads “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote parts of Prometheus Unbound while living in Rome, died in a boating accident off the coast of Tuscany, but was buried here.
Further, one of Italy’s most famous political minds of the 20th century is also buried here. Antonio Gramsci, a communist, was not allowed a burial in a Catholic cemetery.
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.
Perhaps it’s a bit morbid to spend time at a cemetery while on vacation. 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.