The other day my field trip was to the Protestant Cemetery, a crumbling old brick-walled (that’s redundant in Rome) cemetery where non-Catholics who croaked here, among them Keats and Shelley, are buried.

I walked along the banks of the Tiber, my favorite spot, as far as I could to get there.

Here’s another great thing about La Citta Aperta: you could take a nap, camera in hand, and just twitch every now and then and still get some halfway decent photos.

Romans, by the way, have the same attitude toward the Tiber as Angelenos do toward, say a tour of Universal Studios. As in–Hunh? Why’d you want to see that old thing?

James Joyce spent an unhappy seven months in Rome circa 1906, culminating in a night at the bars after which he was rolled and had his wallet stolen.

The nearest church in my ‘hood: Trinita dei Pelligrini

“So I went home sadly,” he wrote to his brother Stanislaus. “Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother’s corpse.”


  1. I love the fact that Shelley's grave has a quote from Shakespeare!

  2. Speaking of the English, I hope you check out Babington's Tea Rooms at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. It's been there since 1893, which is young for Rome — but the ladies who established the place were among the first to sell tea in Italy outside of pharmacies.

  3. Italy's all a giant corpse.

  4. Very exciting, to see the resting-places of Keats and Shelley! Shelley had kind words for Our Lady in a lesser-known poem of his, calling her "Sweet Benediction in th'eternal curse"!

    I think it was Countee Cullen who had a poem about Shelley called "Cor Cordium" after the inscription on his gravestone.

    And what can one say of John Keats, who was certain of nothing "but of the holiness of the Heart's affections, and the truth of Imagination" …

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    When speaking of the "Protestant Cemetery" one should immediately add that its real name is "Cementerio Acatolico"–non-Catholics, such as different Orthodox varieties and perhaps a Jew or two, if I remember right from my many visits there.

    If you go, look for the disconsolate angel over the tomb of Emily Story, from Boston.


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