Finding a quiet, cool place away from the crowds is therefore delightful. I found just that near the Piramide Metro Station (Metro Line B) as I was on my way home from walking the Aventine Hill. The place cannot be missed, first of all because of the landmark right beside it, the pyramid of Caio Cestio, a massive structure at the edge of Via Ostiense, and also because from the top of the walls, (not just any wall though, it's the Aurelian wall, started by Aurelian in 271 BC and completed by Probus in 280 BC) one sees trees, lots of trees! For someone trudging along under a very hot sun, it looks inviting indeed!
|The Aurelian Wall|
|the pyramid of Caio Cestio seen from the Protestant cemetery|
Bushes with fragrant white flowers, which to me looked and smelled like jasmin are scattered here and there. Vines creep up the aurelian wall at the rear of the cemetery. And there is silence, a peaceful, blessed silence, broken once in a while by the tweeting of birds, the footsteps of visitors and the laughter of children, playing in an open area near the older part of the cemetery.
|Part of the Aurelian Wall within the cemetery|
In addition, a map identifies burial areas of several very important "residents". Most notable being, two outstanding English poets of the Romantic Age, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The first grave I came upon was Shelley's. He died in a boating accident off the coast of Viareggio in 1822. It is in the newer area of the cemetery almost against the wall. He is buried beside Edward Trewlaney, who proclaims their friendship in his gravestone.
Keat's grave is in the older section of the cemetery, tucked in the leftmost corner. His grave and that of his friend, Joseph Severn and Severn's son are arranged together in a plot planted with flowers and shaded by a tree. There is also a bench against the wall, facing the grave, inviting one to sit and contemplate. It is in the quietest part of the cemetery and very peaceful and beautiful.
|Keats on the left, Severn on the right and Severn's son in the center|
If you do allow yourself to sit down, you are forced to reflect on the words on Keat's gravestone:
Whose Name was writ in Water"
Leaving one with a feeling of nostalgia and an unescapable sadness, a sense of loss..... maybe, for one so gifted to die so young! Oscar Wilde visited this place and Keats' grave in 1877 and he was moved to write a sonnet on Keats, parts of it read:
"The youngest of the martyrs here is slain
Fair as Sebastian and as early slain"
It is such a peaceful place that there is a reluctance to leave. And so I sat, lulled by the breeze and the silence, dozing off a little, to be rudely awakened by a rustle of wings, and the cawing of a black crow settling on the arm of the bench I occupied. He stared straight at me, I stared back and then I realized that it was darker, there were no more people around. I stood up abruptly, thinking to myself, "Shades of Edgar Alan Poe"!