Illustrious tombs of Florence, celebrating death on All Saints’ Day

Illustrious tombs of Florence, celebrating death on All Saints’ Day

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

Leonardo da Vinci said: “Just as a well-used day produces a sweet dream, a well-used life produces a sweet death.” Death and life are two sides of the same coin. We fear death as children fear the darkness. But in fact, one should fear life more than death. What happens after death has been the great “incognitum” of humanity since its foundation. Death makes us reflect on life’s value.…

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Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florence: memento mori

Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florence: memento mori

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

We all are born to die, and the awareness of this truth acts as torture for many and as a relief for others. Standing in the centre of the present piazzale Donatello, the English Cemetery (Cimitero degli Inglesi) was laid out in 1828 by the architect Carlo Reishammer, for the Swiss Community, outside the 14th-century walls and the Porta a Pinti (demolished in the later 19th century). When the whole area was rearranged by Giuseppe Poggi, the cemetery stood out as a prominent feature, an ‘island of the dead’ surrounded by traffic. Here are the graves of some 1,409 non-Catholics from sixteen countries, including writers and artists such as the poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and W. S. Landor, the sculptor Hiram Powers and the great scholar G. P. Vieusseux. Arnold Böklin’s famous painting The Island of the Dead was inspired by this cemetery. Among the Swiss, Russians, Americans and British buried here, English-speaking British and Americans are the majority as the Anglophone community in Florence in the nineteenth century was the largest. The cemetery had to be closed in 1877, when the law forbade burials of bodies within city limits.…

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