The English Cemetery – Florence, Italy - Atlas Obscura

The English Cemetery

Many famous English poets including Elizabeth Barrett Browning are laid to rest at this Swiss-owned cemetery in Florence. 

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This small elevated cemetery is located in the center of bustling, high-traffic roads in the city of Florence. Despite being situated on a plot of land in Italy that is actually owned by Switzerland, this burial ground is the final resting place for several notable English and American poets, including the famous Victorian-era poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Aside from its famed residents, this surprising cemetery is also home to a host of wonderful statues, including an intricately carved grim reaper. The cemetery is full of white marble monuments, and completely encircled by a black wrought-iron fence. You may even recognize the grounds from their brief appearance in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1999 film Tea With Mussolini.

The area was purchased in 1827 by the Reformed Church of Switzerland and before long, the first non-Catholic cemetery in Florence was built on the land. It housed the graves of Protestants from many countries that had communities in 19th-century Florence, but most were from England, and hence it became known as the “English Cemetery.”

The English Cemetery is about a 20-minute walk from the iconic Florence Cathedral. When you enter the grounds, straight ahead is a concrete and gravel path going up a hill where a large cross stands. You can wander off the path to the left and right, or head down to the lower level where the path goes completely around the cemetery, and there are more graves to explore. 

Know Before You Go

The cemetery is only open when the caretakers are there to unlock and open the gates. Sometimes they may arrive a little late to open. As of this writing, the cemetery is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. The cemetery is usually open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hours are posted on a sign by the entrance.


 

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January 10, 2019

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