Charmed by the Beautiful Sculptures and Stories of Rome’s Protestant Cemetery

As spring begins to fill the city with colorful flowers, the time is perfect to visit Rome’s Protestant Cemetery, sometimes referred to as the Non-Catholic (Acattolico in Italian) or English Cemetery. Whether it’s a sunny day or you can even wait for a slightly rainy day, here you will find inspiration for some romantic shots. Located in the Testaccio neighborhood in the shade of the Pyramid of Caius Caestius, this graveyard was open for the people who didn’t belong to the Catholic religion.

Possibly the most famous and photographed statue at the non-Catholic cemetery, this crying angel symbolizes the pain a husband felt after losing his wife.
Possibly the most famous and photographed statue at the non-Catholic cemetery, this crying angel symbolizes the pain a husband felt after losing his wife.

Discover Rome’s Protestant Cemetery

Notables buried in the non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome

A wealthy collection of artists, writers, poets, philosophers, and ordinary people are buried in Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery. Most people resting here are foreigners, but there are also graves of Italian people, both famous and ordinary citizens. Among the most distinguished Italians that here found eternal rest is Antonio Gramsci, one of my very favorite politicians, philosophers, writers, and thinkers, who died in 1937 after ten years of Fascist imprisonment.

Speaking of artwork!

Among other names, are buried here also English poets John Keats (whose house you can visit near the Spanish Steps) and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Goethe’s only son, Russian painter Karl Brullov, Norwegian sculptor Hendrik Andersen, Italian novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda, American explorer Thomas Jefferson Page, Italian physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, and English painter Joseph Severn.

What to See in the Protestant Cemetery

A suggestive mix of pagan symbols and different religions and traditions, while this cemetery might not be a straightforward attraction, should you actually visit the non-Catholic cemetery in Rome, it will no doubt make for an unconventional stop.

Image: Grave at the Protestant cemetery in Rome

Even though this cemetery now attracts curious tourists as well as passionate photographers, it’s still one of those fascinating hidden gems in Rome that are still crowd-free. Walking around its alleys, you will find poetry, art, portraits, literature, still life, and virtuosity all around with a mix of crosses and sculptures that convey the feeling of mystery and beauty that wraps the place.

Image: Tombs at the non-catholic cemetery in Rome

The cemetery is divided into the ancient part, where also Keats is buried, right next to the Pyramid and a newer section where you can find the tombs of several diplomats, poets, painters, writers, archaeologists, historians, scientists, architects, as well as Gramsci’s and the son of Goethe.

Image: Sculpture at the Protestant cemetery in Rome

The population of this intriguing cemetery is extremely diverse. Apart from different professions, here there are the graves of people from different nationalities including English, German, Americans, Russians, Greeks, and even Chinese, all belonging to different religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and even Zoroastrianism and Confucianism. This is why the tombs’ inscriptions are in many languages, often also in different characters and alphabets.

Image: Antonio Gramsci's grave at the non-Catholic cemetery in Rome
Antonio Gramsci’s grave
Images: Unconventional cross sculptures at the Protestant cemetery in Rome
Unconventional crosses
Finely inlaid cross
Finely inlaid cross

Practical information to visit Rome’s Protestant Cemetery

  • Address: Via Caio Cestio 6.
  • How to reach: The entrance is located in a side street off Via Marmorata and a small walk away from Piazzale Ostiense. You can get here by train (Ostiense station), metro line B (Piramide station) or by bus n. 30, 60, 83, 95, 716, 719, 280, 23, 175, and tram n. 3.
  • Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm (last entrance 4,30pm), and Sunday and public holidays 9am-1pm (last entrance 12,30pm).
  • Entrance fee: Free but a donation is welcome.

What to do nearby

Visit Mercato Testaccio

One of the best food markets in Rome, at Mercato Testaccio you can do your Rome gift shopping, find some nice clothes, try hearty Roman street food, do your daily grocery shopping, find some gourmet foods, or simply lay back and relax for a coffee.

Eat the best cacio e pepe

Very close is one of the top restaurants in Rome, the popular Felice A Testaccio, famous for its traditional recipes and especially for its tasty and creamy tonnarelli cacio e pepe that they finish preparing right on the table in front of amused customers.

Enjoy a great gelato

One of our favorite gelaterias in Rome is right in this quarter. Brivido makes a large range of gelato flavors to meet every taste, preference, and diet needs, including vegan and sugar-free options.

Admire great street art

The most famous mural in the Testaccio neighborhood is the giant wolf in Via Galvani but walking around the area you can find other street art from great names including Alice Pasquini.

Visit Ostiense neighborhood

Walking a little further, you will end up in the vibrant Ostiense area. Trendy and colorful, if you do make it here you don’t want to miss the Ostiense huge street art and the decadent relics of a recent, yet bygone industrial past such as the General Markets, the Gasometer, and Rome’s former power plant Centrale Montemartini, now turned into a museum.

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