Unexpected Rome: The Non-Catholic Cemetery

I have to walk past a cemetery every time I need to get to the Metro.

Rather than scurrying away with my head down, I slow down and peek through the gate.

If I have enough time and €3, I go in without fail.

Rome's Protestant Cemetery

It might seem strange to wander aimlessly through a graveyard, but the non-Catholic cemetery is one of the most tranquil spots in all of Rome.

Rome's Non-catholic cemetery

Piramide metro is just beyond the wall, and traffic speeds along Viale Ostiense, but the cemetery itself feels almost silent.

Rome Cemetery

Among the headstones, are pomegranate trees and wild strawberries. Perfect hedges, cypress trees, and tiny purple flowers populate the space.

cemetery for foreigners rome

The Cimitero Acattolico is also sometimes call the Cimitero dei protestanti or Cimitero degli Inglesi.

Non-Catholic cemetery, Protestant graveyard, the English cemetery.

Non-catholic cemetery

Many names for the same place, nestled on one edge of Testaccio and sitting a few meters outside of the ancient Aurelian walls.

However the “Protestant Cemetery” is a bit of a misnomer. People from many faiths, including Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Confucianism, are all buried here.

gravestone rome

It is the final resting place of writers, diplomats, artists and scholars. Most famous of all may be English poets Shelley and Keats.

Weeping angel

I am always struck by the grave of American sculptor William Wetmore Story.

gravestone non-catholic cemetery

He is buried with his wife Emelyn, under an Angel of Grief which he himself designed.

cat sanctuary rome

In addition to the nearly 300 gravesides, the Cemetery is also home to a cat sanctuary.

Rome's Pyramid

If you turn left as you enter the gate of the cemetery, you will leave behind the shadowed walkways and pop out into a meadowy space in front of the recently restored Pyramid of Cestius.

rome piramide

In this section, you’ll find the grave of John Keats, who died in Rome from tuberculosis at the age of 25.

Keat's Grave Rome

His dying request was to be laid to rest under a tombstone bearing no name or date, only the words, “Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water.”

Cat in Rome cemetery

It is a beautiful and calm space to visit if you are ever in the area.

I have to agree with Shelley, who wrote: “It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”

Campo Cestio

Cimitero Acattolico (Campo Cestio)
Via Caio Cestio, 6
00153 Roma, Italy

Open: Monday-Saturday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (last entrance at 4:30 pm), and Sundays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (last entrance at 4:30 pm).
Cost: Suggested donation of €3.

2 Comments

  • Reply Unexpected Rome: The Non-Catholic Cemetery &nda... February 22, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    […] A pyramid, a cat sanctuary and poets, the cimitero acattolico has it all.  […]

  • Reply DMae July 12, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Do feel free to make a donation to the cemetery. I leave a bit of extra there each time I visit as it really takes a lot of maintenance.

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