Since the 18th century the “Prati del Popolo Romano” (Meadows of Roman People), devoted to the public use, received the remains of Protestant people, which, according to the papal legislation, could not be entombed in a church, and whose burial nearby the Muro Torto close to prostitutes, suicides and people who denied sacraments, was considered indecorous. Thus the Cemetery of English People or Non-Catholic Cemetery arose from the dialectics between discrimination – the “heretic” had to be confined in a marginal place – and privilege – because of the dignity of buried people.
The first record of a burial in Testaccio dates back to the 1738. Until 1765, however, as it was not allowed to build monumental tombs – just like for Jewish people – the area maintained its aspect and its use as public meadow.
In the 19th century, among the main achievements of the diplomatic pressure by Protestant countries on the Papal Court,

there were the regulation of burial rights and works carried out in order to defend the Cemetery, whose tombs had often been violated by fanatical and drunk people.The place looked as a garden that partly maintained the original rural aspect and partly reminded the garden-cemetery used in the Protestant Europe.
Althought the transformation of Rome into the Capital of Italy, in 1870, had brought about confessional freedom, the Cemetery faced the threat of the expanding new working class quarters and was rescued by the diplomatic activity of foreing embassies.
Today, the Cemetery preserves the memory of people different in nationality, social level, religion or personal opinions, such as the English poets J. Keats and P.B. Shelley, and A. Gramsci, founding member of the Italian Communist Party and antifascist.


( L. D’Alessandro)