I agree with Oscar Wilde who called the protestant cemetery the holiest place in Rome. It is one of the most peaceful sanctuaries in a city teeming with tourists and traffic; that alone makes it sacred ground for me.
Nestled in a blind corner of a busy intersection, the cemetery hides all evidence of its urban perimeter. The park-like grounds are lush with permissibly overgrown plants and Rome’s famous pines enclose the space in a verdant veil.
I dragged Olivia to the cemetery on a rainy Easter vigil. The moody weather and quiet holiday offered a perfect backdrop for our graveyard visit. Officially called The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners, it contains the graves of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Orthodox Christians, among others. The cemetery also claims to have the highest density of important graves in the world. An exaggerated brag?
Pere Lachaise, what say you?
Two notable names, literary greats John Keats and Percey Shelley are buried here.
Like Oscar Wilde, Shelley also found himself enchanted with the cemetery. “It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place,” he wrote not long before he drowned sailing off the coast of Italy. He was only 29 when he died.
Many of the other graves have elaborate memorials and poetic epitaphs:
Also this month, we joined Jim on a work trip to Lecce, an ancient city located on the heel of the Italian boot.