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On the via Senese, just outside Florence and near Galluzzo, there is a place of great interest, the Cimitero degli Allori (cemetery “of laurels”).

 

allori345 In 1878 the Florentine evangelical churches (Anglican, Baptist, of the Brethren, Lutheran, Swiss Reformed, Waldensian) opened the Evangelical Cemetery “of Laurels” to give a proper burial to non-Catholics not welcomed by the city cemeteries, especially after the closure of the English Cemetery following the law that decreed that cemeteries had to be at least 100 meters from towns.

This place has given hospitality to many important Italian and foreign figures who, attracted by the Renaissance and cosmopolitan culture of the city, where nature, art and life marvellously combined, contributed to its cultural richness, inspired by its artistic and civil values.

Many great art collectors and art historians are buried here: from Frederik Stibbert to Sir Harold Acton, from Roberto Longhi to John Pope Hennessy and Herbert Percy Horne; but also artists, such as the Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (author of the famous painting The Isle of the Dead, in fact inspired by the English Cemetery), the architect Leonardo Savioli and the German painter Hans-Joachim Staude.

There are also many women buried here, artists, intellectuals, writers: Oriana Fallaci, Ludmilla Assing, Jessie Taylor Hillebrand, Vernon Lee, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, Sofia Besobrasova De Gubernatis, Dorothy Nevile Lees.

Next to them, many other great names, but also less known figures, no less worthy of being commemorated. The cemetery, therefore, offers itself as a testimony, a document of life, an artistic monument, a true open-air museum that houses significant items of sculpture and applied arts dating to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The most important Tuscan sculptors left their mark here, from Fantacchiotti to Romanelli, from Betti to Costoli, Corrado Feroci, Antonio Maraini, and next to them foreign sculptors who had chosen Florence, such as Adolf von Hildebrand. The sculpted marbles document the trends of the purist academic language and realism, of Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Art Deco, articulated in a refined inventory of styles.

In the last year several cultural events have been held in order to enhance the place and communicate its cultural liveliness, focusing on the personalities buried here and on the artistic and architectural beauty of the place. Today the Cimitero degli Allori welcomes believers of every religious confession together with non-believers.

 

 

Published: 1/9/2018

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