One of the loveliest locations in Rome
The Protestant Cemetery
via Caio Cestio 6
06 57 41 900; www.protestantcemetery.it
One of the loveliest places in Rome is, believe it or not, a cemetery. The Cimitero Acattolicio goes by many names: the Non-Catholic Cemetery, the Protestant Cemetery, the English Cemetery. It dates from the end of the eighteenth century, when non-Catholics could not be buried within the city walls, and is next to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, so it is easy to reach by metro (take it to the Pyramide stop). Tall pines shade the beautiful garden, and part of its surrounding wall actually runs into the pyramid. Friendly, well-fed cats that freely roam the grounds are taken care of by kindly English-speaking ladies who are always willing to give directions to the final resting places of luminaries. John Keats lies there, and nearby is Percy Bysshe Shelley, and right next to him is the American Beat poet Gregory Corso. You can also find John Addington Symonds; Richard Henry Dana, Jr., the American author of Two Years Before the Mast; Antonio Gramsci, a founding member and leader of the Italian Communist Party; and Gottfried Semper, the great German architect of the Dresden opera house (the Semperoper) and Vienna's Museum of Art History, Natural History Museum, and Municipal Theater (the Burgtheater), and the redesign of the Ringstrasse. Not far from him is William Rutherford Mead, president of the American Academy in Rome until his death in 1928, and partner in the legendary American architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White, architects of the Academy. Henry James loved "the little Protestant cemetery," and wrote in Italian Hours "Nothing could be more impenetrably tranquil than this little corner . . . where a cluster of modern ashes is held tenderly in the rugged hand of the past."
David Morton is the Associate Publisher for Architecture at Rizzoli International. He is the recipient of several Literary Marketplace Awards and the Henry Hope Reed Award, and his books have received numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects.