A couple of weeks ago, PG was on a stroll around a part of Florence that was new to him when he saw something called The English Cemetery on Google Maps.
He followed the map to a low hill covered with gravestones located behind an iron fence in the middle of a large traffic circle. Crossing over to the cemetery gate, he saw a groundskeeper and asked, “Closed? Open?” The groundskeeper answered, “Open,” so he walked in.
This is some of what he found:
Despite some traffic sounds, it was a peaceful place and PG was the only visitor.
After reading a number of detailed inscriptions, most in English, but some in German, Italian and Latin, he made his way back to the gate.
It was locked. No groundskeepers were to be seen anywhere.
After casting a dubious gaze at the iron fence (which appeared well-designed to keep intruders out and American lawyers in) PG began diligently looking for someone who might provide an alternative to scaling the fence. He definitely did not want to phone the B&B, where Mrs. PG was having a nap, for assistance.
Following a few minutes of searching, he discovered a small office containing an old woman with white hair who wore a light blue habit. Maybe it was the surroundings or, perhaps, the fence, but she looked a bit angelic.
She was a most pleasant person, a native of Sussex who had come to Florence many years before. She explained that the cemetery was closed to visitors at that time, but was happy to unlock the gate for PG.
Here’s part of the description of The English Cemetery from Wikipedia:
The English Cemetery in Florence, Italy is at Piazzale Donatello. Its names, ‘Cimitero Inglese’ and ‘Cimitero Protestante’ are somewhat misleading, as the cemetery holds bodies of Orthodox Christians as well as those of many Reformed Churches; but the majority of those buried here were of the Anglophone British and American communities of Florence.
. . . .
Before 1827 non-Catholics and non-Jews who died in Florence could be buried in Livorno only. In 1827 the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church bought land outside the medieval wall and gate of Porta a’ Pinti at Florence from Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany for an international and ecumenical cemetery, Russian and Greek Orthodox burials joining the Protestant ones.
. . . .
Many famous people are buried in the graveyard: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (in a tomb designed by Frederic, Lord Leighton), Walter Savage Landor, Arthur Hugh Clough, Fanny Trollope and her daughter-in-law Theodosia Garrow Trollope and three other family members, Isa Blagden,Southwood Smith, Hiram Powers, Joel Tanner Hart, Theodore Parker, Fanny, the wife of William Holman Hunt in a tomb he himself sculpted, Mary, the daughter of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope in a tomb he himself sculpted, Louise, sister to Henry Adams, whose dying he describes in his ‘Chaos’ chapter in The Education of Henry Adams, two children of the Greek painter George Mignaty, whom Robert had paint Casa Guidi as it was when Elizabeth Barrett Browning died there, and Nadezhda De Santis, a black Nubian slave brought to Florence at fourteen from Jean-François Champollion’s 1827 expedition to Egypt and Nubia, while the French Royalist exile Félicie de Fauveau sculpted two tombs here. Beatrice Shakespeare and Edward Claude Shakespeare Clench relatives of William Shakespeare.
. . . .
The Cemetery had to be closed in 1877, when the law forbade burials of bodies within city limits.
Link to the rest at Wikipedia