Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

English greats remembered in Florentine style

It’s not just the Italians who took the magic of renaissance Florence to their hearts. Generations of British and American artists and aristocrats have fallen in love with the place – some so much, they decided to spend forever there. 
Just outside Florence you’ll find Cimitero degli Inglesi – ‘the English cemetery’, so called because of the sheer number of English speakers who decided to make it their final resting place. 
The cemetery was originally built in 1827 by the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church to bury the non- catholics of the city. Burial sites in the city itself were forbidden, so it was created across from the former Porta a Pinti, just outside Florence. But as the city grew, it soon engulfed the site, leading to burials in the cemetery being halted in 1869 and the gates closed eight years later, where they remained firmly shut until quite recently. 
Now you can visit the cemetery for yourself and pay your respects to some great influential minds. Among the 1400 or so tombstones you’ll find those of poets Arthur Clough and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, writers Frances Milton Trollope and Walter Savage Landor, and the last known descendants of William Shakespeare. Beatrice and Claude Shakespeare once lived in a cottage on the grounds, which now houses some of the works of the many authors buried there. 
Even if you’re no great fan of the classics, you can still marvel at the surrounds. The cemetery is built on a small hill, surrounded by a stone wall, with a grand column at the center, donated by Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1858. The peaceful cemetery, with its tall cypress trees and tranquil surrounds feels a million miles away from the closely-packed streets of the city and busy ringroad surrounding it.