For a long time I have been collecting brief excerpts or longer citations regarding the Old English Cemetery of Livorno. Many of these have the power of giving us a glance of what it was like in the past by describing in colourful detail its vegetation, or the railings and low wall enclosing it, or the magic and melancholy atmosphere that could be felt while wandering there, or some of the white marble monuments of all shapes, with their inscriptions in many different languages…  These passages were written by people visiting it during a day off at Livorno’s harbour waiting to sail to some other places. Others came just to see the famous tombs of Smollett and Horner, or to look for the grave of an acquaintance or of some other person they particularly respected… Some of them fell in love with it and would even dream of dying in the surroundings so they could be buried in such a wonderful garden, while some others compared it to other cemeteries, or noted its uniqueness in Italy or its age. Certain writers depicted Livorno as the Italian ‘Babel’; it was populated with merchants of all tongues, mariners and pirates, noblemen and their courts passing through on their way back to Florence, and consumptive gentlemen hoping the sea breeze would make their health better.

Here’s one of these excerpts:

Piero Sraffa, M. H. Dobb, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, 10, 1955, 321-322.

Letter, Thursday 24 Oct.r Pisa [1822]

(…) We also saw the English Burying Ground in which we were very much interested. It is full of very handsome monuments the inscriptions on which are mostly written in English. We saw Smollett’s and his wife’s, but that which mostly attracted our attention was Francis Horners, who died here at Pisa and was buried there. It was raised by his father and is very handsome. There is a Basso Relievo of the deceased upon it which is I think like him. The inscription on one side is in English and on the other in Latin – it describes, and I believe justly, his talents and virtues and states that the monument was erected by his father. I never saw a handsomer Burying ground – one could almost wish to die near Leghorn to get in so neat a place and amongst so much good company. It is not absolutely kept for the English only other protestants are buried there – I saw a stone recording the death of one of the family of Simonde Sismondi a citizen of Geneva.

See more excerpts: The Old English Cemetery in Quotes.

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