Since the forecast called for rain and chilly weather this weekend, I decided to skip the beach and have myself a little staycation here in Rome. I took the opportunity to see a few sights I've had on my list for awhile. First up - and thanks to some inspiration from a fellow Foreign Service blogger - the Cimiterio Monumentale di Verano.
The cemetary was huge, with several distinct sections. There are a number of these stacked crypts...
Then bigger gravestones set into the wall...
Graduating to more traditional freestanding (albeit huge) gravestones like you'd see in the states...
To full out miniature houses, in many cases more than one story tall.
These reminded me in part of the cemetaries in South America that looked like small neighborhoods, with front porches, rooms meticulously decorated with living room sets or tables set for a meal. While most of these funerary monuments weren't set up like that, many had elaborate stained glass windows and religious murals. It was also really interesting to see the architectural styles used - and their progression through the years.
Back in college I took a class called "Death and Dying in Cross-cultural Perspective". At the time we all thought of it as the equivalent of the famous "underwater basket weaving", but it fulfilled pretty much every random requirement simultaneously (history, culture, anthropological inquiry and whatever other weird nonsense they had tacked on to my actual degree) so I signed up. In the end the class was humbling and eye-opening as we learned about the various ways that cultures around the world honor their dead. Compared to other final resting places this one seems just that - restful. The overall impression it gave was one of a peaceful neighborhood with treelined streets, a bit disheveled and overgrown but in a comfortable sort of way - full of well-loved, and well-lived, families.