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Shelley-Keats House

Listed under Visitor Attractions in Rome, Italy.

  • Photo of Shelley-Keats House
  • Photo of Shelley-Keats House
Photo of Shelley-Keats House
Photo by flickr user paolo màrgari
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‘Rome is yet the capital of the world. It is a city of palaces and temples, more glorious than those which any other city contains, and of ruins more glorious than they’ Percy Bysshe Shelley remarked to Thomas Love Peacock in a letter in 1839. Situated on the Spanish steps in Rome, the Keats-Shelley House has had tourists flock to bask in the genius of the British Romantic writers. For generations Piazza di Spagna has been visited by architects, painters, writers and musicians that have all lodged there. Tobias Smollett, George Eliot, Goethe, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, the Brownings, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde and Joyce were just a few of the many who were attracted and inspired by the celebrated 'centro storico'.

The exterior that greets you is the same exterior that greeted Keats when he visited in the last few months of his life, trying to stave off consumption. Inside the building brims with paintings, manuscripts and other artefacts dedicated to the late Romantic poets. There is also a reliquary containing a lock of Milton’s hair, a manuscript and poem by Wilde and splendidly-bound first editions of works by Wordsworth to name but one in the comprehensive Romantic library.

The house has become a place of lectures, poetry recitals and gala events in the modern era but one of its most important acts came when the allied forces arrived in Rome in 1944, acting as a refuge for the soldiers to recover and reflect and where one soldier’s father wrote that his son had found serenity and strength amid sorrow like Ruth in Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale.

Written by  John Johnston.

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