Visiting Tobias

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Visiting Tobias

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I went to visit Tobias Smollett in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Largo Ing.Guido Donegani just off the via G. Verdi. It should be a melancholy place. Certainly it’s unloved, untended, overgrown and locked away from any would-be visiter. As a result, it has become a kind of unofficial nature reserve, shaded by lanky oleander, cypress, elms, that, legend has it, were planted by American sailors in memory of loved ones buried there, and that most English of shrubs, elderflower. It is full of shadows and birdsong, and really rather lovely in an odd way.

As I came away, I heard deep base singing from a neo-classical church on the other side of the road. It turned out to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church packed with glittering ikons and, of course, those splendid deep base male voices were recorded. How churches benefit from the improvements in recording technology. As I came out, a Muslim woman was passing by with her children. Livorno has lived up to its historical reputation for religious tolerance.