Protestant Cemetery in Rome


Rome Protestant Cemetery (40)

I am addicted to cemeteries and even if I am traveling abroad I make sure to visit one. On my last Italy tour, I purposely left a day for myself where I would visit a local cemetery. I somehow feel that a cemetery has lots of stories hidden in it waiting to be told. With so many people being buried out there I am sure there would be someone very significant.

It was the last day of the trip along with my wife and daughter, we had a wonderful trip traveling all around Italy and on the final day, it was a complete “Me” day. Both my wife as well as my daughter are aware of my love for heritage thus when I told them that I would be visiting a cemetery on the last day they were not much surprised. They were sure that there will be a final twist which they have all become accustomed to.

Italy as we all know it is the center of Roman Catholicism with the Vatican being the final authority so it’s natural for Italy to have the majority of its population to be Roman Catholics. Thus I was looking for the odd man out and a quick research led me to the Protestant Cemetery of Rome. Even though Italy is a Catholic country but there were occasions when non-Catholics had to be buried so a special cemetery was created specifically for this purpose.

In Italy, this cemetery is known as the Cimitero Acattolico or the Non-Catholic Cemetery, however, this cemetery is also referred to as the Cimitero dei protestanti or Protestant Cemetery. In Europe the majority of the Protestant population were from England thus I guess it was also referred to as the Cimitero degli Inglesi or the Englishmen’s Cemetery.

 

How to Reach?

This place is very easy to locate especially if you are traveling around Rome in Metro. Its located within a hundred meters from Piramide Metro Station which is on Line B of the Metro network. This station is located two stations after Colosseo (Rome Colosseum) thus you can always visit thing along with your trip to the Colosseum.

As the name of the Metro station suggests there is a small Pyramid that is located right opposite to the station and this is also the landmark to the cemetery.

 

What to See?

This trip will actually cover five different sites: –

Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate)

Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius)

Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)

Cimitero del Commonwealth (Rome War Cemetery)

Monte dei Cocci (Broken Pot Mountain)

All these sites are within walkable distance located very close to each other. Some of these sites will take time to look around whereas some can easily be seen from a distance.

 

Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate)

As you come out of the metro station you would see a huge stone gate to your right. This is known as the Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate). This gate was once part of the Aurelian Walls which once circumference the city of Rome around the 3rd century. This gate was once part of the southern section of the wall. The main gate has two cylindrical watch towers on each side. At present this gate houses the Museo della Via Ostiense.

Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate)
Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (2)
Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate) – Courtesy Jensens (Creative Commons)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (3)
Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate) – Courtesy Lalupa (Creative Commons)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (5)
Inside Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate) – Courtesy Lalupa (Creative Commons)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (4)
Porta San Paolo (San Paolo Gate)

Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius)

You don’t need to always travel to Egypt to see the pyramids since there is one right at the heart of Rome known as the Piramide di Caio Cestio. This pyramid, in fact, forms a part of the Protestant cemetery and can be seen from the main road as well as from the cemetery side.

This pyramid is actually the tomb of Gaius Cestius and built around 18-12 BC. This is relatively a small pyramid with a dimension of 29.6 meters square at the base and rises to around 37 meters. The pyramid is built of brick and concrete with marble covers. The burial chamber is inside the pyramid in a sealed state. Though not much is left inside to see you can still go inside the pyramid with prior appointment on second and fourths Saturdays of every month.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (6)
Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (7)
Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius) – View from The Main Road
Rome Protestant Cemetery (8)
Piramide di Caio Cestio (Pyramid of Caius Cestius) – View from The Cemetery

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Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)

This is the most visited site out here since this place a quite significant for the people that are buried here. This is relatively a small cemetery and free for all to visit. You may, however, donate some money at the entrance which is used for its maintenance.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (14)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – Entrance
Rome Protestant Cemetery (15)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – Inside
Rome Protestant Cemetery (16)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – You Can Spend Some Time Sitting In The Cemetery Benches
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – You Can Spend Some Time Sitting In The Cemetery Benches
Rome Protestant Cemetery (18)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (19)
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – Smita & Rianna Enjoying the Trip
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – Memorial Plaque Mentioning the Major Repair Works That Were Carried Out
Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome) – Memorial Plaque Mentioning the Major Repair Works That Were Carried Out

For me, the main reason for visiting this cemetery was to visit the burial site of famous English poet John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. I had read their poetry during my school days thus my visit was also a tribute to their works. The gravesite of Keats is easy to locate but you need to search a little to track Shelly.

Keats used to stay in Rome at the later part of life and his house which is now a museum and is located near Spanish Steps. Keats died due to tuberculosis on 23 February 1821 and since he was an English Protestant was buried at this cemetery. Keats did not want his name to be on the headstone thus there is no name mentioned just

“This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
Who
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
Desired
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water
24 February 1821”

A memorial plaque can be seen on the left side of the tomb which tells about the significance of the “Young English Poet”

Rome Protestant Cemetery (21)
Burial Site of John Keats (Left) and His Friend Joseph Severn (Right)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (25)
Burial Site of John Keats (Left) and His Friend Joseph Severn (Right)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (22)
Burial Site of John Keats
A Memorial Plaque to Keats Installed Near the Burial Site
A Memorial Plaque to Keats Installed Near the Burial Site
Rome Protestant Cemetery (24)
A Beautiful Definition of Keats

If you walk straight from the entrance and at the dead end take a left turn you will find the grave site of English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelly was not actually buried here but his ash was interned here in this cemetery. Shelly died by drowning in a storm while traveling in his boat and was cremated on the shore and his ashes were buried at this cemetery. Ironically when his body washed up on the shore he had in his pocket a book of poetry by Keats. He died on 8th of July 1822.

His grave has a tablet stone which is written in Latin which reads-

“Percy Bysshe Shelley
Cor Cordium (Heart of Hearts)
Natus IV Aug, MDCCX (Born 4th August 1792)
Obiit VIII Jul MDCCCX) (Died 8th of July 1822)
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange (Shakespeare’s The Tempest)”

Rome Protestant Cemetery (26)
Burial Site of the Ashes of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Rome Protestant Cemetery (27)
Burial Site of the Ashes of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Apart from these two famous English poets, there are other famous personalities like Belinda Lee (English actress), Hans von Marées (German Painter), Giorgio Bulgari, Frances Minto Elliot (English Writer) and many more.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (28)
The Weeping Angel at Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (29)
Some Beautiful Marble Works at The Cemetery
Some Beautiful Statues at The Cemetery
Some Beautiful Statues at The Cemetery
Rome Protestant Cemetery (31)
Kirkpatrick – Might Be Related to The Kirkpatrick (The White Mughal) of India
Some Beautiful Marble Works at The Cemetery
Some Beautiful Marble Works at The Cemetery
Some Beautiful Marble Works at The Cemetery
Some Beautiful Marble Works at The Cemetery

I was also surprised to find the memorial tablet stone of the first Indian ambassador to Italy who despite being a Hindu had a memorial plaque in this cemetery. This was a find for me actually since no other documents pertaining to this cemetery mentions this India connection.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (34)
Memorial Plaque of Dewan Ram Lall at Cimitero Acattolico di Roma (The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (35)
A Head Stone Belonging to A Muslim Can Also Be Seen Here

This is relatively a small cemetery and very well maintained. There are benches all over the cemetery and I am sure you would love to spend some time here reading a book or perhaps reading on some poetries by Keats and Shelly.

Cimitero del Commonwealth (Rome War Cemetery)

A little down the Protestant Cemetery you will find the Cimitero del Commonwealth. If you are a WWI & WWII enthusiast, then this place is a must go. Visually all the Commonwealth cemeteries look almost the same with the Cross of Sacrifice and several headstones all perfectly lined up with names and regiment coat of arms.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (36)
Cimitero del Commonwealth (Rome War Cemetery) – Courtesy Lulupa (Creative Commons)
Rome Protestant Cemetery (37)
Cimitero del Commonwealth (Rome War Cemetery) – Courtesy Lulupa (Creative Commons)

 

Monte dei Cocci (Broken Pot Mountain)

This is a little further down from Cimitero del Commonwealth and can be visited along with your trip to this section of the city. As the name suggests this is basically a mound of broken potteries dating back to the Roman era covering a staggering 20,000 square feet. Most of these potteries were that of amphorae which were tall earthen jars containing olive oil.

Roman Empire had a huge appetite for olive oil and the demand reached such a peak that ships regularly came to the city only containing olive oil in amphorae. The used amphorae had to be dumped somewhere thus this mound was created and planned such that layer by layer these potteries were placed.

Rome Protestant Cemetery (38)
Monte dei Cocci (Broken Pot Mountain) – Courtesy Tyler Bell (Creative Commons)
Monte dei Cocci (Broken Pot Mountain) - Courtesy Lulupa (Creative Commons)
Monte dei Cocci (Broken Pot Mountain) – Courtesy Lulupa (Creative Commons)

Ideally, it should take around half a day to cover all of these locations however I would recommend a full day so that you can take your time from one place to the other.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along with the Indian Vagabond to a tour of Italy. Do keep visiting my blogs for more such interesting blogs.

Video Of The Cemetery


Other Blogs on Italy

Vatican Museum – Guide to See Everything

Activities In Venice

Florence City Tour on a Bus

Father Daughter Trip to Mount Vesuvius

Father Daughter Trip to Herculaneum

Half a Day Tour of Pisa

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