Tuesday, July 22, 2014

150. ... City of the Dead ...

Those of you who have been following my Blog over the past 12 months will know of my fascination for visiting old cemeteries in the cities that I have landed in. Apart from the fact that most are deserted of other living beings ( except on Sundays and major saints days ), cemeteries are wonderful museums from the past and galleries full of exceptionally beautiful artworks, and mostly ignored by mainstream tourists ( ... and that's what I love most about spending a few hours in the company of the deceased - no noisy rude tour groups within cooee - bliss ... ).

 

The Monumental Cemetery of Verano – a short tram ride from the centre of Rome - has been a burial place for at least 2000 years ( as evidenced by the existence of a Roman necropolis: the so-called catacombs of Santa Ciriaca ). It owes its name to the ancient field of Verano Verani from the time of the Roman Republic. 

 
 
The cemetery that is here now was founded during the reign of Napoleon ( 1805-1814 ) - in accordance with the edict of Saint Cloud in 1804 which required tombs and all burial sites to be outside the walls of the city. The project of designing and building the vast complex was entrusted to Giuseppe Valadier between 1807 and 1812. Consecrated in 1835, work continued with the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius IX, under the direction of Virginio Vespignani.













 



 




 
 



21st Century family vault ...


  

 

 
 









 






 
Even the poor old lion guarding the tomb had a sad face ...


The vast Cemetery of Verano - with its wealth of beautiful and priceless artworks - is a major outdoor museum to visit, and I was fortunate on this very hot Roman day to have this cool shaded gallery all to myself – with the company of several noisy crows and lots of hungry wild pussy-cats ( … and vicious Latin mosquitoes if I stood still long enough for them to land … ) - plus a sinister black Mercedes sedan with blacked-out windows that cruised past me several times ...mmmmm ...