Sunday, December 19, 2010


In the midst of this great snow storm have been preparing the
fifteen minute invited presentation to the European Economic and Social Committee, 14 January. You can see it at and It's titled 'From Graves to Cradles' and is on Roma training, education and integration, our splendid gardeners and restorers of this 'English' Cemetery.
A blessed Christmas from Florence whose Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo is no longer of red brick but seems like Michelangelo's St Peter's Dome of white Carrara marble.

If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery and its gardening you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the Pay Pal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at, or some or all of these.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Custodian, 'English' Cemetery
President, Aureo Anello

Friday, December 03, 2010


We say the Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery is an archive in marble. It is also the Bible incised in stone. Passages in Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Rumantsch, French, German and English, generally being the King James Bible in English, the Lutheran Bible in German, the Calvinist Bible in French. In this time period Italian Catholics were forbidden the Bible in the vernacular, that only changing with Vatican II. Some of our burials, such as that of Rosa Madiai, are of persons imprisoned for their use of the Bible in Italian in the nineteenth century. The German Biblical passages are often those set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The great central column, surmounted by the San Giovanni Cross of lilies and roses set up by Pietro Bazzanti in honour of the visit of the King of Prussia, states in French 'Je suis la Résurrection et la vie, Celui qui croit en moi vivra, Quand même il seroit mort. St Jean XI.25. Fréderic Guillaume, Roi de Prussia, MDCCCLVIII'.

//=How many times a particular scriptural verse is used on the various tombs

Genesis 24.31 Blessed of the Lord /

Numbers 6.24-26 The Lord bless thee and keep thee, The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace /

II Samuel 10.12 It is the Lord. Let him do that which seemeth him good /, 12.23, I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me /, in Italian /

Job 1.21, The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord /////////, in Italian ///, in French /, 3.17 There the weary be at rest /, 19.25, I know that my Redeemer liveth //, Ich weiss dass mein erloeser lebet, in German /, 23.11 Meis pei s'ha artignu vta seis fastizis, eu ha salva sia via, e non sun giunghi da quella, in Rumantsch /, 29.11 When the ear heard her, then it blessed her, and when the eye saw her it gave witness to her /, 30.16 in Italian /

Psalms 3.4 I cried unto the Lord and he heard me /, 5.1 /, 16.11 In Thy presence is fullness of joy, at Thy right hand are pleasures evermore /, 23.1 The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still water /, Il Signore è mio pastore, nulla mi mancherà, in Italian /, 26.4, 31.5 Into Thy hand I commit my spirit, Thou hast redemmed me, O Lord God of Truth /, 34.19 Le juste a des maux en grand nombre, mais l'Eternel le delivre de tous /, 34.41 I sought the Lord and he heard me /, 36.9 With Thee is the fountain of life, In Thy light shall we see light /, 38.15 For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope, Thou wilt hear, O Lord, My God /, 49.15 God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave /, 62.5 My soul, wait thou only upon God, in Italian //, 62.7 Quoiqu'il en soit il est mon rocher, ma deliverance e ma haute retrait, je ne serait point ebranle /, 73.26 My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever /, 116.5 L'eternel est pitoyable et notre Dieu fait misericorde, in French, 116.15 Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints /, in Italian /, 117.2 For his mercy endures forever, in French /, 120.1 I cried unto the Lord and he heard me /, 121.7 The Lord shall keep thee from all evil, Yea it is even He that shall keep thy soul /, 126.5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy /, 130.5, in French /, 145.2, I will bless Thy holy name, O Giod, forever and ever /, 172.2 He giveth his beloved sleep /

Proverbs 31.28 Her children arise up and call her blessed //

Song of Solomon 8.6-7 Love is strong as death; Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it

Isaiah 32.17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness, assurance for ever /, 40.11 He shall gather the lambs with his arms and carry them in his bosom //, 43.1 Ne crains point car je t'ai rachete, in French, 43.2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and also the floods they shall not overflow thee /, 60.20 Deine sonne wird, nicht mehr untergehen noch dein mond den schein verlieren denn der Herr wird dein ewiges licht, in German /, 60.24 We must, through much tribulation, enter the Kingdom of God /

Jeremiah 31.3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee /

Daniel 7.14, Thine is the Power and the Glory /

Malachi 3.17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.

Matthew 5.5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth /, 5.6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, in French /, 5.7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy/, 5.8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God ////////, in German /, 5.9 Selig sind die Reines Herzens sind denn sie werden Gott shauen, in German /, in French /, in Italian /, 6.10 Thy will be done //////, 6.13 Thine is the Power and the Glory /, 9.13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sarifice: for I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance /, 9.24 in French /, She is not dead but sleepeth ///////, in French /, in Italian /, 11.26 Even so Father for it seemed good in Thy sight //, 11.28 Come unto me all ye that are heavily laden //, in French //, in German /, 12.43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father /, 14.27 It is I, be not afraid /, in French /, 18.2 Jesus called a little child unto him /, 19.14 Suffer little children /, in Italian /, Of such is the kingdom of heaven ///, 25.13, Watch therefore for ye know neither the day not the hour wherein the Son of man cometh /, Veillez donc car vous ne savez ne le jour ne l'heure ou le fils de l'homme viendra, in French //, 25.21 Well done, thou good and faithful servant //, 25.24 Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you /, 26.42 Thy will be done /////, 27.63 Resurgam, in Latin /

Mark 5.39 in French /, She is not dead but sleepeth ////////, in French /, in Italian /, 10.14 Suffer the little children, in Italian //, 10.50 And he, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus /,

Luke 1.46 L'anima mia magnifica il Signore e lo spirito mio festeggia in Dio mio salvatore /, 8.52 She is not dead but sleepeth /////////, in French //, in Italian /, 11.2 Thy will be done /////, 18.16 Suffer the little children come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God //, in Italian /, 20.36 Neither can they die anymore, for they are equal unto the angels and are the children of God being the children of the Resurrection /, 23.50 He was a good man and a just /

John 5.24 is passed from death unto life /, 6.37 He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out /, 10.28 I give them eternal life /, 11.23 Thy brother shall rise again /, 11.25-26 I am the Resurrection and the Life - saith the Lord - He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live /, in Italian //, in French ///, 11.35 Jesus wept /, 13.7 Vous ne savez maintenant ce ve je fais mais vous la saurez apres, in French /, 14.2 Nella casa del Padre mio vi sono molte stanza, /, 14.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am there may ye be also /, 14.6 I am the way, the truth and the life /, in Italian /, 14.27 My peace I give unto you /, 17.11 & 22 That they may be one / 27.3 Haec est vita aeterna ut te cognoscant solum verum Deum et quem tu misisti Jesum Christum, in Latin /,

Romans 6.23 The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord /, 11.33 O profondeur des richesses et de la sagesse et de la connoissance de Dieu que ses jugements sont inpenetrables et que ses voies son incomprehensible, in French /,12.10 [Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another]

I Cor 15.19 If in his life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable /, 15.44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body /, 15.53 This corruption must put on incorruption //, 15.56 Oh Death, where is thy sting, Oh grave where is thy victory? //, 15.57 Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory ///

II Cor 1.3 Blessed be God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ theFather of mercies and the God of all comfort who comforteth them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted /, 12.9 My strength is made perfect in weakness /

Ephesians 2.4 Charitatem dilexit, in Latin /, 2.8 Vous êtes sauvés par grace, par la foi et cela ne vient pas de vous, c'est un don de Dieu, in French /, 2.13 But now in Christ Jesus who sometime were far off /

Galatians 5.22 The fruit of the Spirit /, 6.14 in Italian /

Philippians 1.21 To me to die is gain /, Car Christ est ma vie, et la mort m'est un gain, in French //

Colossians 3.3-4 We are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God /

I Thessalonians 4.13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hoped for if we believe that Jesus dioed and rose again even so /, 4.14 Them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him /////, in French /

II Timothy 4.8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only but unto all them that also that love his appearing /, 4.11-12 J'ai combattu le bon combat j'ai fini ma course, j'ai gardé la foi,. Au reste, la couronne de justice m'est reservée, in French //

Titus 2.13 Looking for the blessed hope /

Philemon 16 Not now as a servant but above a servant a brother beloved /

Hebrews 4.9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God /, 6.19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast /, 12.2 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith //, 13.5 Fear not, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee /, 13.8 Gesu Cristo è l'istesso ieri, oggi, ed in eterno, in Italian /, 13.14 Nous n'avons point ici bas de cité permanente mais nous cherchons celle qui est a venir, in French /

I Peter 4.12 Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you /, 4.13 But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed ye may be glad also with exceeding joy /, 5.7 Umiliatevi gettando sopra lui tutta la vostra sollecitudine perciocché egli ha cura di voi, in Italian /

James 1.22 But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves /

I John 1.7 The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin /, 2.17 in Italian /, 4.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us /, 4.16 God is Love /, He that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God and God in him /, 4.18 Perfect love casteth out fear /

Revelation/Apocalypse 1.5-6 Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever /, 7.14 These are they which come out of the great tribulation /, 7.17 L'agneau qui est au milieu du trone les paitra et les conduira aux sources d'eaux vives et Dieu essuiera toute larme de leurs yeux /, 14.13 Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them /////////////, in German /, in Italian /, in French //, 22.5 And there shall be no night there /

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I so wanted to share this hauntingly beautiful Romany music with everyone. It is played on a barrel organ in Piazza Beccaria in Florence. I have finally succeeded with bicycle, laptop and microphone in rcording it. And here it is

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


In the post came a thousand daffodils, sent by an English Garden Tour organizer. And this morning we have planted all of them in Florence's Swiss-owned, so-called 'English' Cemetery. Some on graves, some on the little lawns between the graves. Breteanu, Mihai, Gheorghi and I braved thunder showers and worked together, raking leaves, planting bulbs. Roma work best in groups like this, the young twins Mihai and Gheorghi (who are now such good alphabet students, this Sunday even rapidly learning the computer keyboard), working with the older Breteanu and instinctively doing everything right, with great energy and joy. When I pay Breteanu for his garden work he takes the euro bills and rubs his beard with them with such a twinkle in his eye. It was a glorious day. And will be a glorious Spring in Florence.
This is part of our 'From Graves to Cradles' project with Roma, its 'work/study' aspect. And everyone who visits exclaims about how well-maintained the English Cemetery now is. People remember it as formerly abandoned, put to weed killer, grey, broken, ugly. And I explain it is the work of the Rom that has now made it so beautiful. I so wish my Italian friends would take on this splendid team of workers, a gardener and his two boys. They can do anything. And so well.
You can find out more about our Roma project at and more about the 'English' Cemetery at We are now nominated for UNESCO's Memory of the World Register and we are also included in the Council of Europe's Cultural Cemetery Route through ASCE, Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe. Google UNESCO Memory of the World and ASCE to find us!

If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery and its gardening you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the Pay Pal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at, or some or all of these.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Aureo Anello Association for the Library and Cemetery
Piazzale Donatello, 38

Monday, October 25, 2010



Explosion! A sixteen-year-old who could not even write his name is now joying in copying the Latin on the plaques in the Santissima Annunziata, the English on the plaques in the Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery. Our Alphabetization School works! He read out to me the other day a poster on 'Santa Umilta'. I was in tears for she is the saint for whom I have named my Umilta website. Illiterate, she dictated marvellous sermons of most profound theology to her nuns. Yesterday he was reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning's stanza on Lily Cottrell. EBB, in Aurora Leigh, has a heroine, Marian Erle, teach herself to read and write out of books thrown away in the rubbish.

Mihai is from Romania, a Roma, a gypsy, his family too poor for them to afford his schooling, who beg in the streets, their miserable shacks in Osmannoro bulldozed by the police, and who are forced to sleep at night in the open in the streets in groups of no more than three.

They come each Sunday after Mass, sitting under the great column and cross at the centre of the Cemetery, learning their letters and how to write their names, teaching each other in Romanes, the letters being the Romanian ones, having painted laptop blackboards for white chalk out of left-over library shelving. They get sandwiches of blessed bread and ground chicken livers and apples and water and used clothing. Sometimes as many as twelve of them, all ages, both genders. It's so easy to do and yet no church, no government seems to see this is a need for beggars in the street to rise up out of their poverty. It costs so little. It can achieve so much.

We are using the ideas of Lancaster, Montessori, Piaget, Freire and Don Lorenzo Milani. They work! When I ask them which language they are happiest in they say Romanes. It is from Sanskrit, from India, it is their language, in the home, in the family. Excellent linguists we find classes being in a mixture of Romanes, Romanian, Italian and English. And now Latin, too! With laughter and with self-worth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.

Terence was a freed slave from Africa, his full name Terentius Publius Afer, who wrote the most wonderful plays in which women, slaves and sons come out on top, in such pure Latin that he gave Cicero the concept of 'Humanitas', our 'Humanities'. The above line, meaning 'I am a man; therefore I consider nothing of humankind alien to me', was placed by Montaigne on his study ceiling in Bordeaux. I have placed an essay on the playwright,, on the web site on Terence, Look also at which gives the Latin text of his Heautontimuremos with miniatures and woodblock engravings of the scenes, as well as medieval plays written by women and men influenced by him.

Terence's Theatre
This is fitting for this library in a cemetery where we have a black slave from Nubia, Nadezhda, who came to Florence at 14, being baptized in a Russian Orthodox family, and also, with hers, the tombs of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Frances Trollope, Richard Hildreth, Hiram Powers, who wrote and sculpted against slavery.
Even our Roma, who restore this Cemetery, were slaves from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, only being freed when Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was translated into Romanian. And she was copying the anti-slavery novels already published by Frances Trollope, Jonathan Jefferson Whitelaw, and Richard Hidlreth, The White Slave.

A slave village (Shatra) in Romania, 1850s
We no longer need to sign the UNESCO Petition which has been delivered to Paris for the UNESCO Memory of the World Register's nomination. But we would appreciate any donation for the restoration and maintenance of this beautiful place, so filled with the world's memories. In particular are sought donations towards our alphabetization school for our skilled, but illiterate, Roma workers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The irises which are Florence's purple lily

This title sounds almost like a line from an Edith Sitwell poem! It announces a gift to us of narcissi thalia from the Sissinghurst Castle garden and we are very grateful. In the Spring I shall post photographs of these elegant flowers amongst our tombs. As a child growing up in Sussex I went once, on a birthday, to Sissinghurst Castle. And learned of Vita Sackville-West's work in creating it, the great lime tree walk, so much else. Then my mother gave me a copy of her poem, The Land, when I was in exile in Mendocino County and I wrote to Vita of that nostalgia, she replying with commenting on the beauty of the Sequoia Redwoods. I treasured Virginia Woolf's Orlando, the Julia Margaret Cameron photographs, the various novels I acquired by Vita. My last is a copy printed by the Hogarth Press of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. On my office door at Princeton I used to have a picture of Vita in her book-lined tower room at Sissinghurst. Thus, especially with books and tombs, we link our memories, the past for the future.

For the garden of Florence's 'English' Cemetery is created from gifts from so many, bulbs in the Spring, roses, lavendar and pomegranates, these last by our poets' graves, for the Summer, plumbago for late Summer, papyri all year round except when engulfed in snow. We invite you, too, to contribute with plants with non-invasive roots. And we joy, too, in the wild poppiesthat returned after we stopped the dreadful weedkilling chemicals used in the past.

And now all our tombs lacking their letters in lead have been repaired, thanks to the careful, painstaking work by Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu and Cristi Mihai, Roma from Romania. The Roma are also our excellent gardeners. Already they had conserved all our Victorian cast and wrought ironwork with scraping away all the rust and applying two coats of anti-rust, two coats of gray enamel. They are skilled in everything except that schooling is too costly for them in Romania so many lack the alphabet. Therefore we hold alphabet school on Sundays after Mass under the great cross in the centre of the Cemetery. In this photograph you can see Daniel painting the letters on the later Landor tombs while Lupascu Copalea and Breateanu Bancuta look on, Breateanu thus learning his letters, Lupascu, who had some schooling under Communism, being one of our teachers. School is held in the Romany language with the Romanian alphabet. The Roma tell me they are happiest in their ancient Sanskrit home and family language and learn best in it. But they are brilliant linguists, quickly learning also Italian and English. Thus our school, run by them, uses ideas of Madame Montesorri, Don Lorenzo Milani and Paulo Friere. What a gift it could be if churches taught the beggars at their doors the alphabet! Charity a school.

Breteanu Bancuta Lupascu Copalea Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu at the Landor Tombs

Breateanu Bancuta Julia Holloway Lupascu Copalea

We no longer need to sign the UNESCO Petition which has been delivered to Paris for the UNESCO Memory of the World Register's nomination. But we would appreciate any donation for the restoration and maintenance of this beautiful place, so filled with the world's memories.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


A landmark en passant (Part II)
Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 6:18 PM | posted by Joelle Edwards

More than 120 years after its 1877 closure, the ‘English Cemetery’ of Florence had fallen into a derelict state. Tombstones were unstable and cypresses were falling.

Permission for a restoration project was officially granted in 1997, when the city of Florence also approved 500 new loculi (burial plots) for ashes or small caskets of bones. The cemetery re-opened, albeit in a state of disrepair.

Since 2000, Julia Bolton Holloway, a renowned scholar and custodian of Florence’s English Cemetery, has fought to keep the gates open and restore the original charm of a place described in the nineteenth century as ‘a most beautiful garden.’ Over the past 10 years, she has supported the site through difficult times, rescuing it from ruin and threats of permanent closure. Founding the Aureo Anello Association, she launched a campaign to save the cemetery, and with the support of worldwide admirers of the cemetery, the Friends of the Cemetery was born, and members set to work on a long-overdue restoration.

Reading - in the rain - inscriptions about water from the Bible that Holman Hunt sculpted on his wife's tomb. [This tomb now carefully cleaned.]

One of Holloway’s first challenges was to convince the Swiss owners that keeping the cemetery open would be economically viable, so she began to gather requests to purchase lots. She also paid for handrails at the main entrance staircase and for the restoration of several tombs. Because she could not personally support the restoration, she began to seek donations. To do that, raising awareness is paramount.

Julia at English Cemetery in Florence...To put the cemetery ‘on the map,’ Holloway has used not only her contagious enthusiasm for the site and her powers of persuasion, but also her skills as a scholar. In 2005, she created a Wikipedia entry and an Internet blog to support the Emergency Appeal for restoration of the Cemetery. The oversight committee is impressive: in addition to film director Franco Zeffirelli (Tea with Mussolini), members include the Brontë Society, Browning Society, Dylan Thomas Society of Great Britain, Trollope Society, Gabinetto Vieusseux Centro Romantico, Regione Toscana, British Consul General and Gerardo Kraft, president of the Swiss Reformed Evangelical Church (which bought the land for the cemetery in 1827)

The projects on Holloway’s to-do list include repairing tombstones; preserving the nineteenth-century ironwork and gates; creating a park facility; stabilising the bases of tombs; repairing the north wall; laying new pathways to enable visitors to reach more graves safely; and replanting the gardens with shallow-rooted native and non-invasive plants.

[Of that list the following now are done: many tombstones conserved; all the ironwork conserved; all the lead letters that had gone missing now replaced; bases of tombs stabilized except for three; new pathways created; the garden replanted - though we could do with donations of more non-invasive root plants like bulbs, lavender, etc. JBH]

To continue to raise awareness about the cemetery, Holloway has invited groups to stage events there. On May 23, for example, a group of second-year theatre students from the Tedavi Production Company performed E. L. Masters’ Spoon River Anthology amidst the graves, reciting epitaph monologues as the public walked between them. All donations went to the Emergency Appeal.


Piazzale Donatello 38, Florence
Weekdays only: Monday, 9-noon;
Tuesday to Friday, 3pm-6pm (summer) 2pm- 5pm (winter)

The effort to save the ‘Overseas Poets Corner,’ as poet laureate Andrew Motion once called it, includes not only Hollway’s tireless work but also the contributions of private donors, along with the cemetery’s earnings as a burial site. Some friends adopt a tomb and pay to maintain its garden. No gift is too small, Holloway notes. (Contribute to the restoration of the English Cemetery with the PayPal link on the Aureo Anello Association website:
In addition to monetary donations, Holloway, requests plants: roses, plumbago, daffodil bulbs and any English flowers with non-invasive roots.

See also the following:

Cemetery website and register:

Wikipedia site:,_Florence

Library website:

Cemetery blog for latest news:

See Part I of the article in

See also Part I published in:

(Article by Joëlle Edwards, Florence, London)

Joëlle Edwards is an English event and wedding planner, working in exclusive venues across Italy. She recently moved to Florence from London after having lived and worked in Switzerland, Palermo and Barcelona. She’d like to sing like Fiorella Mannoia, write like Andrea Camilleri, dance like Ginger Rogers and cook like zia Anna Maria! You can reach her at


The New York Review of Books
Visiting Elizabeth Barrett Browning
December 18, 2008
by Robert F. Ober Jr.
E-mail Single Page Share More by Robert F. Ober Jr.

To the Editors:

Readers might be interested to know that Florence’s English cemetery, where Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried, gladly welcomes visitors. While the cemetery could benefit from an infusion of funds (many tombs, some of which date from shortly after its opening in 1828, have weathered poorly), an Anglican nun, Julia Bolton Holloway, unselfishly cares for its grounds and continues to collect, in its gatehouse, books relating to the notables—including Americans—buried there. (Ms. Holloway is an EBB scholar, having edited, with her late father, the 1995 Penguin Classics edition of the poet’s works.) The cemetery is somewhat off the touristic track (non-Catholics could not be buried within Florence’s now-vanished walls), but is still a mere quarter-hour ride from the Duomo, at Piazzale Donatello, 38. More information can be found at or directly from Ms. Holloway:

Robert F. Ober Jr.
Sharon, Connecticut

Friday, August 06, 2010


Although Wyclef Jean was not allowed to run for President of Haiti he had the right idea, on the need for literacy for his people.


Haiti and Romania seem far apart yet are not. One is black, the other white. But in Romania, as in Haiti, much of the population were enslaved, in Romania these being the Roma, the 'gypsies' who had come from India a thousand years ago with their ancestral skills. The duration of enslavement of the Roma to nobles and monasteries was from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century when Uncle Tom's Cabin was translated into Romanian. In both countries the slaves, even when freed, were denied decent housing, work with dignity, education. The two far-apart countries run a very close parallel to each other.

These are suggestions for Wyclef Jean, learned from the Roma of Romania begging in the streets of Florence.

I. The most important unit is the family.

II. Be sure that each family can have land to build on and on which to grow food.

III. Immediately import tents, wood house kits, and other earthquake-proof building materials not available within the country for Haitian families. Create work building these as well as Buckminster Fuller domes for schools and hospitals.
IV. Make sure that each family can conserve water with drainpipes and cisterns.

V. China now fabricates inexpensive solar kits that can run a light and recharge telephones and even a small laptop. Give each family independence from centralized power.

VI. Pay the older more infirm members of families who do know how to read and write to teach all those who do not.

VII. Have the families create their textbooks, publishing these on the Web with their drawings that can be downloaded for use. Have these textbooks share information on how to build houses, how to conserve water, how to grow food, how to prevent illness. Have teaching be in their dialect paired with globally dominant languages using colour-coded bilingual/multilingual texts. See,,,

VIII. In the midst of the earthquake, despite their poverty, Haitians were beautifully dressed. Encourage local dressmakers to produce clothing in cottage industries so they can care, at the same time, for the children, rather than working in factories, 50% being for fellow Haitians, 50% for export.

I & II are true for Haiti and the Roma.

III, IV, V, VI, VIII are needful for Haiti and for the Roma.

Always combine work and study. Education, especially of women, is the cheapest and best investment a nation can make towards its development and well-being. At the same time the education in the home of building, farming, sewing and other skills needs equal respect and is of equal value to the formal education acquired in schools.

Our project for the Roma in Romania, submitted to the 'Decade of Roma Inclusion' of the Open Society Institute in Budapest, is called 'Home Building, Home Schooling,' and is suggested as the foundation for obtaining work in the European Union of which the Romanian Roma are citizens. It uses the concepts of Pestalozzi, Montessori, Fanon, Freire and Milani. Switzerland was a poor country which became rich through educating its citizens.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It has been an intense week. Already on the preceding Wednesday, 12 May, had been a UNESCO conference on Traditional Knowledge. At which the mayors of the local comunes were speaking of the need to repair Tuscany's dry walls, her terraces, many destroyed in the heavy rains of the 1966 Flood, and of needing money for this. But no one knows any longer how to build dry walls or wants to work that hard. And I suggested the Roma, who have rebuilt our dry walls expertly, the whole family working together, the women holding babies in their arms telling the men where to place the stones, the brothers and husbands throwing the stones to each other and catching them, and putting them in place, and the very long wall they built in two hours having held the hill now for nine years.
Then Thursday through Saturday the European Union's Commission's European Social Fund meeting at the Ospedale degli Innocenti on Social Exclusion and Education. Again I got to speak of the Roma from Romania and the 'English' Cemetery and how excellent their work is. And how important it is to give them literacy. To my amazement one Commission member, Irini Pari, placed me on her blog.
And on Friday at 3:30 p.m. was the UNESCO Memory of the World Exhibition at Santa Croce. So I was madly cycling between the two and there I met Joie Springer, who will be coming here today to see the 'English' Cemetery. And one of the Memory of the World treasures was the 1840 Waitangi Treaty with the New Zealand Maori chiefs and the white settlers. Now Peter Neville and his wife came to this 'English' Cemetery in a pouring rainstorm and Peter, who is Maori, recited his genealogy back to the signer of the 1840 Waitangi Treaty and to the Maori settler from Polynesia!
Then, Saturday afternoon, was the awarding of prizes by the Arciconfraternita della Misericordia in photography and poetry. I didn't expect my photographs to win because they are too controversial though absolutely the theme of diversity. One was called Osmannoro Poverty, the other Osmannoro Bellezza. Since the time they were taken and submitted the police had bulldozed Margarita's shack at Osmannoro built from materials no one else wanted and she and her family, including Printsu below, were having to sleep in the streets in groups of no more than three. And it was the bitterest winter we have experienced in years.
Margarita is to the left and she is our excellent gardener. She also sewed her skirt herself. When she smiles she is beautiful.


Now the Misericordia has a most beautiful but abandoned cemetery next door to ours. I am suggesting to them our workers. They could restore the splendid nineteenth funerary carriages in black and white. Our cemeteries with that of San Miniato a Monte could become together Florence's Père Lachaise.
We seek funds to pay these people to garden, and do other work restoring the 'English' Cemetery so they can repair their roofs, school their children, learn the alphabet. They already have wonderful skills as blacksmiths, stonemasons, carpenters, gardeners.
The Roma babies are wrapped up in fasces like those on the Ospedale degli Innocenti and almost never cry, from feeling so secure, so loved. This is Printsu whose parents are working here to find the money for his hospital care in Romania. He is anemic from lack of milk. The stress caused his mother not to have enough. His parents, who are all of eighteen, are sleeping under the loggia of the Innocenti at night. I have been teaching them to write their names and the alphabet so they can become members of our association and work in the Cemetery. They go home on Tuesday to be with their baby.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


This morning was so beautiful I got out the humungous antiquarian digital camera to photograph it all and have made a slide show for you of our glorious irises in bloom.
These are Florence's lilies. Then a young artist was inspired to paint them. So I photographed him, too, painting them.
You can find all this, in more detail, with more photographs and which are larger, at
After the irises will be roses and lavender and plumbago. The irises are thanks to Nicholas Dakin-Elliot, Head Gardener of New York University's Villa La Pietra.

If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery and its gardening you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the Pay Pal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at, or some or all of these.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Aureo Anello Association for the Library and Cemetery
Piazzale Donatello, 38

Thursday, March 25, 2010






A piazza in Florence, a cemetery on a hill with its tall cypresses, perhaps once an Etruscan tomb, now strangely set in the midst of swirling modern traffic, through whose gates visitors step into a different past. An archive, a library, in situ, with the documents and also with the books by and about the persons buried here: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Walter Savage Landor, Frances Trollope, Southwood Smith, Arthur Hugh Clough, Jean Pierre Vieusseux, Hiram Powers, Theodore Parker, Richard Hildreth, the sister of Henry Adams, the wife of Holman Hunt, the daughter of Arnold Bőcklin, the son of Ferenc Pulszky, the governess of the Tsar of Russia, the son of William IV of England, twelve participants of the Peninsula and Waterloo battles against Napoleon, many friends of Florence Nightingale, whose tombs the ex-slave Frederick Douglass visited. A place filled with memory, for Florence, for Italy, for Europe, for the world. A place dense with meaning, a burning glass of history, for Civil Rights, for the Aboliton of Slavery, for the rights of nations (among them Greece, Italy, Poland, Hungary), to be freed from foreign oppression, for the rights of women, for the rights of children, for health and welfare, a place for poets and sculptors, a place for writers and artists. In its oval are multiple languages, a United Nations in a city square, peaceably altogether, the archives in French and Italian, the tombstones they document in Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Cyrillic and fraktura alphabets and in most European languages, including Rumantsch. A cemetery celebrated in Arnold Bőcklin's 'Island of the Dead' and in Sergei Rachmaninoff's music to the same. Nobles and commoners lying with slaves, serfs and servants, all walks of life, the Swiss owners burying pauper travellers for free. In the nineteenth century a beautiful garden, now being restored in the twenty-first, after years of abandonment and neglect, from research in Victorian diaries and guidebooks and from old photographs and paintings. A place whose intent was, is and will continue to be the 'Memory of the World'.

The Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery as it was from 1827 to the late 1860's. At the Risorgimento Giuseppe Poggi re-designed Florence, briefly Italy's capital, with Parisian boulevards, tearing down the medieval walls built by Arnolfo di Cambio and Michelangelo Buonarotti to do so. The 'English' Cemetery had nestled against the outside of the medieval wall by the Porta a' Pinti Gate. It still has the two stemma of the lily and the cross Arnolfo sculpted.

The Cemetery with its Gatehouse, housing the library and archive, as they are now. The tomb of Elizabeth Barrett Browning is the large sarcophagus on six colums to be seen in the centre on this side of the central path. The large building behind the Cemetery is the studio of Michele Gordigiani, who painted the two portraits of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning which are now in London's National Portrait Gallery. Francesca Gordigiani, his descendant, still lives in his studio. We recommend you call up Google Earth and ask it for 'Piazzale Donatello, Florence', to see a further aerial view of the Cemetery and Gatehouse.

To call up each section of this file click on the following:

I. The Swiss Archives

Receipt for burial of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

II. The Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery

III. Florence in Sepia

IV. Florence's Flood, 1966

V. The Mediatheca 'Fioretta Mazzei'

VI. The Florin Website

VII. 'The City and the Book'
International Conferences in Florence

VIII. The Romanian Roma Restorers

IX. Julia Bolton Holloway, Custodian, Vita

We don't need to sign the petition anymore. It went off in the post to UNESCO this morning with 6000 signatures. Thanks!