Tuesday, 1 May 2012


When visiting Sicily we stopped at a couple  of cemeteries and had a wander through them. Italian cemeteries tend to be very crowded and the graves are very ornate and adorned with statues, carvings, flowers and text. One can tell space is at a premium, but at the same time the culture is very much influenced by the past, when in Etruscan and Graeco-Roman times the tomb was seen as the place where the dead spent their time after life so it had to be as home-like as possible. Hence the mausoleums and elaborate tombs of antiquity.

Many pagan traditions have survived in both Greece and Italy and those customs, beliefs and traditions that relate to the dead have been particularly resistant to change. Instead the introduced Christianity has adapted these old pagan traditions into new guises that were compatible with the new religion's belief systems.

The photos in this post are from a quite large cemetery in the outskirts fo Syracuse, Sicily. This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.
A high wall completely surrounds the cemetery
The text in the centre, on the pages of the open book reads: "Why do you look at me? As I am you will become; As you are I once was." This is a common ancient epitaph that has here been translated to Italian 
Interesting to see this modern-looking statue of a mourner in amongst the more traditional Christs and Madonnas
Even the dead live in high rise apartments!


  1. Very crowded...It would be hard to find a particular grave without a survey book for sure.

  2. Talk about a city of the dead. It seems like there is little room to include more graves. This is an impressive aggregation of tombs. Thanks for the view, Nick.

  3. That is crowded indeed.

  4. Thanks for the good explanation.

  5. Wow, I love how everything looks so white. I also love the pictures of the deceased next to their graves.

    Herding Cats


  6. This is one crowded cemetery!

  7. Fantastic! The top shot is a winner.

  8. So many of them. Great info about these.

  9. Even though it looks very crowded, it seems to be rather orderly (which would help in finding your loved one's place)

  10. We are starting to get them here, those high-rise apartments. There are a few tucked away down at Botany where I laid my father last year. I am not keen on them. The look like the drawers one opens in the morgue to id the deceased. AND ... they look like those structures from whence golfers shoot long shots (drives, I suppose) again and again until they are good enough to go down onto the green. Maybe there is a link, Nick.

    European cemeteries all seem crowded to me. I love them, but have to come back regularly because 4 hours of walking and reading and thinking is my maximum. I like seeing the photographs of the deceased, but think I would like it less if I had actually known the person.

    Once again, a really fascinating contribution to TT.

  11. wow, that is really crowded! those little greenhouses, thats what they look like to me, are funny!
    i have been to an italian cemetery here in boston; the same! also extremely crowded and many sculptures... very interesting to see. it almost seems like they WANT it to be crowded, since there is/was enough space... and they just like to put them close together!


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