The Italian Almanac

italian cemetery

Italian news - April 25

Italian cemeteries are preparing special areas for people to scatter ashes of the dead after a long-awaited law allowing them to do what they wish with remains was enacted.

Cremation met with resistance from the Catholic Church, which had banned followers from being cremated until 1963. It became legal in Italy in 1987, though there were historic precedents such as the cremation of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley on the beach of Viareggio in 1822.

Even when cremation became legal, Italians were still forced to keep ashes in a cemetery for hygienic reasons. A 2001 law abolished this, allowing them to keep or disperse ashes as they see fit. It came into force only recently.

The largest cemeteries in Rome and Milan are preparing 'memory gardens' to give friends and family members a place to disperse remains. Officials in Milan cited an increasing number of Italians preferring cremation, up to about 35% of total deaths, while in Rome cremations have risen 10% every year since 2001.