One of our family favorite activities on a Sunday afternoon in Rome is a wander in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Testaccio. We particularly love it in winter. I know, it is more picturesque and colorful in the spring and early summer, but even on the grayest of winter gloom, this space is a transporting haven of green and peace. But we really don't know much about it, preferring to dip in and out at our own pace.
Rome is filled with interesting characters and hidden talents. Pretty much everyone you meet here has an interesting backstory; The tour guide who is a concert pianist, the woman at the morning coffee is a stand-up comic, the star of the play an accomplished lawyer, all making their way in Rome. At one of the many festive holiday parties we were lucky enough to be invited to over the Christmas holidays, we met a noted scholar, author, archeologist Nicholas Stanley-Price, who just so happens to also love the Non-Catholic Cemetery, and generously offered to give us a tour.
In the drizzle we learned the stories behind how Oscar Wilde felt about Shelly's Grave, Confederate heroes, and the most copied statue in the cemetery. You will have to become a friend, read the very informative newsletters, or book a tour to learn the many secrets and stories this remarkable site hold. I recommend all three.
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The cemetery in the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome has many names; Campo Cestio, The Protestant Cemetery, The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners, or the Cat Cemetery. It holds the grave of the poet John Keats, the famous pyramid of Rome, about 40 cats, and most importantly it holds the grave of Emelyn Story.
What’s that, you don’t know who Emelyn Story is? Well, neither do I. However, I know that Emelyn Story is eternally associated with the most beautiful, moving sculpture I’ve ever seen.