Marco Island’s right off the gulf coast near Naples.
The island’s first inhabitants, the Calusa people, literally built the place up 5000 years ago by gathering huge mounds of shells that they used for burial sites. At sea level you have to build up to bury your dead.
Now-a-days the island’s built up in a whole different way. Millionaire mansions, fancy hotels, golf courses, and high-end shops just about smother any natural beauty Marco might once have offered. But there’s still one tiny cemetery. And they still lay their dead to rest above ground.
They put entire families, cremated I assume, in one stone, then group all the relatives around the base of a tree.
The stone obviously isn’t local. Not a lot of granite on an island made of shells, but there’s still something appealingly organic about it.
There are still folks in this little cemetery buried in the traditional below-ground way. I loved this hand-carved declaration.
To find the cemetery…
Go to the tourist info office and ask for the “Self-Guided Quicktour” map. It’s quick alright, the islands only six miles long. There’s not actually a lot of history, but the map will get you to the cemetery. Most of the tour consists of driving by mansions, fancy hotels and shops. The notation in the tour guide should read, “This is where there used to be…”