Rome's Romantic Poets: where to find the graves of Keats and Shelley

Keats and Shelley are buried in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in the Testaccio area of Rome.

Rome's Non-Catholic Cemetery, also known as the Protestant Graveyard, is the final resting place of the English Romantic poets John Keats (1795-1821) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).

Keats succumbed to tuberculosis and died in Rome aged 25 in what is today the Keats-Shelley House at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Keats' gravestone, inscribed with the immortal words 'Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water' can be found in a quiet corner of the oldest section of the Non-Catholic Cemetery, in the shadow of the Pyramid of Cestius.

The English painter Joseph Severn (1793-1879), who nursed Keats devotedly during his final illness, is buried next to the poet, and Severn's infant son Arthur in buried under a small tombstone between the two men.

Shelley's tomb at the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome

The ashes of Shelley, who died aged 29 during a storm off the Tuscan coast near Lerici in 1822, are buried in the highest part of the cemetery's zona vecchia, opposite the main entrance.

Three and a half years earlier the poet's three-year-old son William "Wilmouse" Shelley was buried in the cemetery after dying of a fever, most likely malaria, on Via Sistina in Rome. Little Wilmouse was laid to rest not far from Keats' grave, in close proximity to the pyramid.

Writing in a letter to Thomas Love Peacock in 1818, Shelley described the cemetery thus: "The English burying-place is a green slope near the walls, under the pyramidal tomb of Cestius, and, as I think, the most beautiful and solemn cemetery I have ever beheld."

Almost 60 years after Shelley's death, his friend and adventurer Edward Trelawny was buried beside the poet.

For detailed locations of notable graves see cemetery map while for insights into the Roman experience of 19th-century foreign writers and artists, see walking tour article.

Cover image: Keats' grave, photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto.

General Info

Address Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

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Rome's Romantic Poets: where to find the graves of Keats and Shelley

Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

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Wanted in Rome is a monthly magazine in English for expatriates in Rome established in 1985. The magazine covers Rome news stories that may be of interest to English and Italian speaking residents, and tourists as well. The publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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