The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is Commonly Known as the Englishmen’s Cemetery:The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is officially known as the Cimitero Acattolico or “Non-Catholic Cemetery”. More commonly referred to as the Cimitero degli Inglesi (Englishmen’s Cemetery), it is the final resting place of two famous English poets, John Keats and Percy Shelley.
The Protestant Cemetery is not just for Englishmen. It is the burial place for non-Catholics from all nationalities. Amongst its notable burials are Goethe’s son, English writers, Russian painters, German authors, Italian philosophers, American sculptors, etc.
The most famous graves in the Protestant Cemetery are those of John Keats and Percy Shelley. Keats was seriously ill with tuberculosis when it was suggested by his doctors that he move to Italy for the warmer climate. His friend Joseph Severn accompanied him on the journey which they made on September 17, 1820. Due to bad weather and quarantine Keats only reached Rome on November 14. He moved into a villa on the Spanish Steps which today is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House museum. Despite care, Keats died on February 23, 1821, three months after arriving in Rome. He was only 25.
In a quiet corner in the old part of the graveyard is Keats’ grave. Keats had requested that he be placed under a unnamed tombstone which contained only the words, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” His friends Severn and Brown who erected the tombstone included the following longer epitaph:
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” Feb. 24 1821
Shelley too died at a young age. On 8 July 1822, just before his 30th birthday, he drowned in a sudden storm while sailing back in his schooner from Livorno to Lerici. He was cremated on the beach near Viareggio and his ashes were interred at the Protestant Cemetery.
Joseph Severn who died in 1879 is buried next to Keats grave.
The Protestant Cemetery is close to the Pyramid of Cestius and is easy to reach by Metro. Catch the Blue line in the direction of Laurentina and get off at Piramide.