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Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

The people included here were either born in Britain, died in Britain,
became British citizens, became Prime Minister of Britain or ascended the British throne.


Italy's climate, history, culture and landscape has always attracted artistic people, and during the 19th century it became a fashionable summer destination and often chosen domicile for many writers and poets including some of England's greatest: Keats, Byron, Shelley and Browning. Keats and Shelley who both died in Italy are buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome.

Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!
Shelley - Julian and Maddalo (1818)

Italia! oh Italia! thou who hast
The fatal gift of beauty.
Byron - Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-1818)

Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary's saying serves for me -
(When fortune's malice lost her Calais) -

Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, 'Italy'.
Browning - De Gustibus (1855)

Born in Lancashire in 1902, from 1949 William Walton lived on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. He died there in 1983, at his home La Mortella, where his ashes were scattered in the garden he and his wife had created.

William Walton

Explorers and Adventurers
Born in Genoa in 1450 the navigator Giovanni Caboto moved to England and settled in the port of Bristol under the Anglicised name of John Cabot. In 1497 he set out from England in search of a route to Asia - via the Northwest Passage round Canada - but instead discovered North America becoming the first European since the Vikings to set foot on the continent and "claiming" the land for his patron, Henry VII of England. Returning to England he set out again on a second voyage in 1498 but never returned, dying somewhere at sea.

Richard Francis Burton died in 1890 in Trieste (then in the Austrian Empire). Born in Devon in 1821, Burton set out with John Hanning Speke in 1856 to find the source of the Nile. In 1858 they became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika but Burton, suffering from malaria, had to turn back and it was Speke travelling on alone who discovered the river's source which he named Lake Victoria. Burton is buried in Mortlake in London.

Richard Francis Burton

Famous People
Born in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire in 1100, Nicholas Breakspear was the only Englishman ever to become Pope when he was elected as Adrian IV in 1154. He died in office in 1159 at Anagni near Rome.

The nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 in Florence, the city after which she was named.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Stuart
Mary of Modena, who would become the second wife of James II in 1673, was born at Modena in 1658. She was Queen until the Glorious Revolution in 1688 when she was forced with her husband into exile in France where they would spend the rest of their lives. James II died there in 1701 and Mary in 1718. She is buried at Chaillot.

Mary of Modena
Glorious Revolution

The Old PretenderJames Francis Edward Stuart died in 1766 in exile in Rome. He was Mary of Modena's only child with James II. Born at St James's Palace in London in 1688 his mother had to flee with him to France later that year when the king was forced into exile during the Glorious Revolution.

On his father's death in 1701 James Stuart proclaimed himself James III, and would have been heir to the throne on the death of his half-sister Queen Anne in 1714, but he refused to renounce his Catholicism and so was excluded from the succession. After several failed attempts at claiming the crown, including a major rebellion in 1715, he settled in Italy, passing the mantle of the
Jacobite cause to his son Charles Stuart.

James Stuart is buried with his two sons (Charles Edward and Henry Benedict) in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica.
They were the last of the Stuart royal line.

James Francis

Charles Edward
Henry Benedict
Glorious Revolution
Jacobite Cause

James Stuart's eldest son, the Young Pretender Charles Edward Stuart, was born in Rome in 1720.

Bonnie Prince Charlie became the new hope for the Jacobite
cause and the rebellion of 1745 came closer to claiming the crown than his father had thirty years earlier. After initial successes the rebellion was finally put down at the decisive Battle of Culloden in Scotland in 1746, effectively ending the prospects of the Stuart royal line of ever returning to the throne. Charles Stuart escaped the battle and with the help of Flora Macdonald, fled back to the continent where he eventually settled, like his father, in Italy.

He died in Rome in 1788 and is buried with his father and younger brother Henry Benedict in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica.
They were the last of the Stuart royal line.

James Francis
Charles Edward
Henry Benedict
Glorious Revolution
Jacobite Cause

World Heritage Sites

Since 1979 fifty-one sites of cultural, historic and natural importance in Italy have been designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Writers and Poets
John Keats left Britain for Italy in 1820 to alleviate the tuberculosis he was suffering from. He died the following year at 26 Piazza di Spagna, the house where he was staying at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. He was buried at the Protestant cemetery in the city, where the following year Shelley's ashes would also be interred.

John Keats

John Keats website

Aye on the shores of darkness there is light,
And precipices show untrodden green,
There is a budding morrow in midnight,
There is a triple sight in blindness keen.

To Homer (1818)

Sometimes eagle's wings,
Unseen before by gods or wondering men,
Darkened the place.
Hyperion: A Fragment (1820)

Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
(His own epitath inscribed on his gravestone, 1821)

Percy Shelley drowned at sea off Livorno in 1822 when his boat sunk during a heavy storm whilst returning from visiting his friend Lord Byron. His friends cremated his body on the beach, retrieving the heart which would later be returned to the country he had left in 1818, and buried with his wife Mary in Hampshire. Shelley's ashes were taken to Rome and interred at the Protestant cemetery where Keats had been buried the previous year.

Percy Shelley

I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown.

Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples (1818)

A widow bird sat mourning for her love
Upon a wintry bough;
The frozen wind crept on above,
The freezing stream below.

Charles the First (1822)

The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived in Italy from 1846 with her husband Robert Browning whom she had married the previous year. They settled first in Pisa and then, in 1847, in Florence, where she lived until her death in 1861 and where she is buried.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850)

I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850)

Her husband Robert Browning died in Venice in 1889. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Robert Browning
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad (1845)

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