26 Piazza di Spagna, situated to the right of the Spanish Steps and overlooking Bernini’s fountain, was the final dwelling place of John Keats, one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets. The house has become a museum dedicated to him and his fellow poet and close friend, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Keats, who came to Rome for the warmer climate, instead lived what he described as a ‘posthumous existence’ for the brief five months he spent there. He hoped his stay in the illustrious city would save his life so that he could return to his beloved fiancée Fanny, but this was not to be, and tragically he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
The charming Centro Storico has attracted and inspired artists from all over the world, and become a place of pilgrimage for anyone interested in literary history. In addition to offering a glimpse into the last few months of Keats’ life, the museum is considered to have one of the finest reference libraries of Romantic literature in the world, as well as a unique collection of manuscripts, paintings and sculptures. However, the house is not only a museum; it holds many artistic and literary events, proving its cultural significance to Rome both in the past and the present.
The Keats-Shelley House (as it is now known) is the setting for a new play by Italian artist Roberta Calandra. Roberta’s script has been adapted for performance by GoodDog Theatre Company.