Dante Alighieri was most known by his Divine Comedy, which widely considered one of the most important poems of the Middle Ages. There is a common thread that runs through Italy and it bears Dante’s name: if Dante’s journey through the afterlife is also an amazing tour that covers Italian villages, art cities and landscapes. Dante’s presence and the mark left by his fame can also be seen in the art and culture of the following centuries.
Most of Dante’s literary work was composed after his exile in 1301, during which the great poet traveled all over Italy. Dante’s writing was clearly inspired by his extensive travels, Since then he lived in Forlì, Bologna, Padua, Treviso, Lunigiana, Verona and finally Ravenna, dying without ever having seen Florence again.
La Vita Nuova (“The New Life”) is the only major work that predates it; it is a collection of lyric poems (sonnets and songs) with commentary in prose, ostensibly intended to be circulated in manuscript form, as was customary for such poems. It also contains, or constructs, the story of his love for Beatrice Portinari, who later served as the ultimate symbol of salvation in the Comedy, the work contains many of Dante’s love poems in Tuscan.
The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso); he is first guided by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice. Of the books, Purgatorio is arguably the most lyrical of the three, referring to more contemporary poets and artists than Inferno; Paradiso is the most heavily theological, and the one in which, many scholars have argued, the Divine Comedy’s most beautiful and mystic passages appear.
Divine Comedy as an allegorical vehicle of human salvation, which is concretized in touching the dramas of the damned, the purgatorial painsand the celestial glories. The depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art and literature, allowing Dante to offer the reader a glimpse of morals and ethics. Divine Comedy allows one to see clearly one’s time and what can be improved in the earthly world. Dante estrangement from his own body and asceticism into absolute bliss in the cosmos, Dante is able to see the conditions of the earthly world, and feels the need to tell these conclusions to improve humanity.
Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy. His use of the Florentine dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and Divine Comedy helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language. His work set a precedent that important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would later follow. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the terza rima, is attributed to him. He is described as the “father” of the Italian language, and often referred to as “the Supreme Poet”.
Dante’s Italy is a tourism and cultural promotion project sponsored by the National Committee for the celebrations of the seven hundredth anniversary of the Poet’s death. Dante was pretty well-travelled, his political role allow him to see a lot of the country, after being exiled from his hometown, he spent the rest of his life on the road. It is an itinerary through the regions touched by Dante. The journey begins with an initial selection of locations, which will increase over time to cover the entire Italian peninsula.
Born in the year 1265 in the city of Florence, Dante was born and grew up in the Tuscan city, which later exiled him when his political rivals gained power. The writer had a love-hate relationship with his hometown. Visit the places where the writer once set foot, the ‘House of Dante’ is dedicated to the poet’s life if you want to learn more, or you can look for the dozens of portraits, busts and plaques in his honour which are dotted around the city. Starting with the San Giovanni baptistery where he was christened, found inspiration for a verse or two of the Comedy in its spectacular mosaic ceiling. Then there’s the Palazzo dei Priori, now a museum, where Dante once spoke at city assemblies.
Dante was inspired by his unrequited love for Beatrice, through his work “Vita Nuove” and his epic poem “The Divine Comedy”, the love of his life and inspiration muse, as he defined her, sprang to life and changed literature as we know it today. Dante’s love started with a chance meeting at the age of nine, where he was immediately besotted with the young Beatrice. These very brief encounters were to be the inspiration for his work “Vita Nuove”, a groundbreaking piece of literature: important for more than just its emotional content but also for its use of the Italian language and the new poetic structure of the prose. Through this poem, Dante claimed that his sighting of Beatrice “woke his sleeping heart” to love. His feelings for her blossomed over the years though they met again nine years after.
Dante’s Home & Museum dedicated to his childhood home with lots of information to help you imagine life in the Middle Ages. Besides telling you about the “Somma Poeta”, Dante’s nickname, these three floors are divided into telling the story of politics, economics, and social aspects during his lifetime.
The St. Margaret church, dating as far back as 1032, is located on a small side street down from the Casa di Dante as you head to Via del Corso. They call this Dante’s church because this is where his family attended and where he officialized his arranged marriage with Gemma Donati
Beatrice’s House, located at Palazzo Portinari Salviati in via del Corso 6 was once the property of Folco Portinari, Beatrice’s father. He was a banker and the founder of the Santa Maria Nuova Ospedale in 1288. Though many times referred to as the house of Beatrice, it was actually her family’s home where she grew up but not where she lived after marriage.
Ponte Santa Trinita is actually where he encountered Beatrice on one of the famous three encounters, yet the noted painting “Dante and Beatrice” dated 1883 by the artist Henry Holiday on display in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England is a wonderful visual of the colors, clothing, and attitudes of the time. It gives form to the memory of the one meeting where Beatrice supposedly acknowledged Dante and from where the words of “La Vita Nuove” sprang forth.
Outside the Church of Santa Croce stands a grim and scowling marble statue created in 1865 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the birth of Dante While he died and was buried in Ravenna when in exile, it took a couple of hundred of years after his death before Florentines even decided they wanted their poet back. They went as far as to build a beautiful memorial for his remains for the day he would return. They made several requests to the city of Ravenna to have him returned to Florence. They were sent an empty coffin.
Death Mask of Dante is a copy of Dante’s face after he died, it is often referred to as a funeral mask. The tradition actually says it was sculpted at a later time from the effigy on the tomb of Dante, whose remains are in Ravenna. And recent studies, confirm that by suggesting that it was most probably carved in the late 1400’s by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. The mask is now on exhibition in Palazzo Vecchio. Displayed here, it has come to symbolize both his political contribution to the city of Florence and his essential role in the development of Italian literature, culture, and civilization.
In September 1301 Dante was part of the embassy sent from Florence to the Pope, in his only visit to Rome. Dante meet Pope Boniface VIII, and it was while he was on this trip that Florence was taken over by a rival faction of Dante’s political party, the Guelphs, leading to his exile.Rome is mentioned frequently throughout Dante’s work, and in return, the city has paid tribute to Dante. Statues, paintings and streets bearing his name across the city. Among the more notable homages are the bust in the magnificent Villa Borghese park, and his cameo in the background of The Parnassus, a Raphael fresco, which you’ll find in the Vatican Museums.
Rome is the very first city mentioned in the Divine Comedy, when Virgil appears to the poet in Inferno Canto. The Monte Mario Hill, which offered travelers coming from the north the first glimpse of the city, or the Bridge of Castel Sant’Angelo are just two of 18 references to Roman places, monuments and symbols scattered in the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.
The history of theSant’Angelo Bridge had begun roughly 1,500 years earlier, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian who had it built to connect his Mausoleum to the other side of the Tiber. Being the only access from the city to St. Peter’s tomb and basilica, the major Christian pilgrimage sites, it was the Roman bridge par excellence for most of the Middle Ages. In Inferno Canto 18, two groups of sinners moving in opposite direction from each other are thus compared to the many pilgrims passing across the bridge during the Jubilee of 1300.
Nimrod is one of the giant Dante meets in Inferno Canto 31. Publius Cincius Salvius, which was almost four meters high and built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, in Imperial Rome. The sculpture had been found among the ruins of the Baths of Agrippa, in that part of the city that was already called “Rione Pigna” in 1200, arousing a certain amazement and giving life to the most bizarre legends.
In apartments of Pope Julius II inside Vatican Museums, Raphael paints two fresco portraits of Dante. The profile of the poet, with the characteristic aquiline nose and head crowned with laurel, appears in the lower part of the Disputation of the Most Holy Sacrament, in the company of theologians, doctors of the Church and popes. And we see him a second time among the epic poets depicted in the scene illustrating the Parnassus, with a draped robe and a volume in his hand, half hidden by Homer’s arm.
In Dante’s Room of Casino Massimo Lancellotti, Philip Veit paints the Paradiso on the ceiling with clear brush strokes and bright colors. However, the most eye-catching frescoes are those painted by Joseph Anton Koch, according to chronicles a passionate reader of Dante’s poem: the scenes of the Purgatorio and, above all, the large wall dedicated to the Inferno, dominated by the gigantic figure of Minos. All around, under the gaze of Dante and Virgil on the back of the monstrous Geryon, there are more or less famous demons, in a tangle of human bodies.
Forlì is deeply connected to Dante because of the quotations contained in the Divine Comedy concerning places, facts and characters from Forlì and also because the city hosted the Great Poet several times between 1302 and 1313 during the rule of the Ordelaffi family. There are numerous testimonies related to the Great Poet visible in the city, in the museums and in the Aurelio Saffi Civic Library.
The itinerary in the footsteps of Dante in Forlì begins at Porta Schiavonia (Schiavonia Gate), an access point for travelers coming from Tuscany along the road that connects Forlì to Florence and crosses the valley of the Acquacheta, today Montone, and the Passo del Muraglione. A memorial stone placed near the door, on the façade of a building at the corner between viale Bologna and via Firenze, quotes the verses of the XVI Canto of the Inferno (vv. 94-99) dedicated to the Montone river that flows a few meters closer.
Palazzo Paulucci di Calboli D’Aste in Via Piero Maroncelli, in the historical center of the city. On the façade of the building, more precisely on the right side of the main door, there is a memorial stone where Dante’s tercets are engraved in memory of Ranieri de Calboli. The verses set the boundaries of Romagna according to Dante Alighieri and his contemporaries (Purgatory, Canto XIV, vv. 88-96)
Palazzo Romagnoli Civic Museum, which houses the relief medallion Portrait of Dante Alighieri. It’s a work by Bernardino Boifava that depicts Dante’s profile in front of the Abbey of San Mercuriale and the victims of the Battle of Forlì (1282). Next to Dante’s medallion, you can admire another hexagonal panel depicting the profile of Caterina Sforza and behind her we see the fortress with an array of soldiers.
Palazzo Albicini, a building with an austere and uniform façade, where Dante stayed when he was a guest of the Ordelaffi family, lords of Forlì. The memorial stone on the façade of the palace recalls Dante’s and Giosuè Carducci’s stay, another great Italian poet, guest of the Albicini marquises some centuries later.
In Piazza Saffi, at the base of the bell tower of the Abbey of San Mercuriale, a memorial stone recalls the bloody episode known as “il sanguinoso mucchio” (1282), the massacre of the French. and it was recalled by Alighieri in a famous tercet of the Divine Comedy. In the XXVII Canto dell ‘ Inferno Dante recalls the siege of Forlì, Ghibelline, the battle became a symbol of the city’s pride. The city resists and defeats, under the command of Guido da Montefeltro, the Guelph troops of Pope Martin IV.
Dante first visited Verona in 1303, staying until the following year as a guest of Bartolomeo della Scala. He returned in 1312, staying until 1318. Dante wrote the De Monarchia and a good chunk of Paradiso whilst here in Verona. In the city he was free to spread his ideas and his works, to study the ancient texts held in the Capitolare library, admire the Roman ruins and breathe the air, hoping for news of a bright and peaceful future.
Dante spent a lot of time in Verona and there are numerous locations where he is remembered, such as the places where he spoke, popularising his ideas, like the cathedral cloisters where there is a plaque dedicated to him in front of the Sant’Elena chapel. Or the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which was attended by the rulers of the city, and in Piazza dei Signori, also known as Piazza Dante, where there stands a statue of the great poet, who dominates the surrounding area. This statue, created by Ugo Zannoni from Carrara marble, standing on a three-metre high pedestal, was unveiled in 1865.
About 50km east of Florence is Casentino, full of forests and castles steeped in history. Dante had a strong bond with the Casentino. Arezzo and Florence bitterly fought for the territory, notably in the 1289 Battle of Campaldino, in which Dante played a part. Among the ranks, there was a young Dante Alighieri in the role of foster, who led his Florence to victory. A white column on the site of the battle, known to locals as “Dante’s suitcase”, and the nearby Poppi castle has information about the battle.
Hosted by the Guidi Counts, here he spent several years of his exile from Florence, in fact many places in this valley are mentioned in his masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy”. Dante, like many other great authors and thinkers, was amazed to see the richeness of the territory of Casentino, where the green hills and streams create an idyllic landscape. In fact, in the 30th Canto of Hell, he describes the descent of the “streams” that descend from the hills to reach the Arno river.
In 1310, he was a guest of the Guidi Counts in their residence, Poppi Castle, a majestic building that overlooks the entire valley. Here, it’s said that he wrote the 33rd canto of Hell. It’s one of the most famous verses of the Divine Comedy and revolves around the figure of Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, with whom the Guidi were related by marriage. Remaining a guest of the Guidi Counts, the Supreme poet got to know the architectural wonders of the valley such as the castles of Romena and Porciano.
Follow the footsteps of Dante in Casentino and continue the journey in Purgatory. In the fifth canto, we find one of the most important spiritual hubs of the Casentino: the Hermitage of Camaldoli. The Hermitage was founded by San Romualdo about a thousand years ago. Surrounded by the silence of the sacred forest cultivated by the monks, the Hermitage represents one of the two aspects of the Camaldolese order, that combines cenobitic life with solitary contemplation. Just above the Hermitage are the sources of the Archiano, a tributary of the Arno, that once marked the border between the Casentino dominated by the Guidi and the territories subject to Arezzo.
The Archiano and its banks are mentioned in canto 5 of Purgatory, when Bonconte da Montefeltro died at the confluence of the Archiano with the Arno. The 5th canto of Purgatory reveals the beauties of the Casentino that fascinated the poet, and among these, one of the most stunning panoramic points of the whole valley cannot be excluded: Pratomagno. This massif separates the Casentino from the Valdarno and constitutes a natural monument for the Casentinesi. Located in front of Monte della Verna, on its summit stands the iconic, huge iron cross built in 1928 in honor of St. Francis.
Lunigiana today lies between La Spezia and Massa Carrara, Dante visited the territory several times between 1306 and 1308, and his time in the region included a stay at the monastery of Santa Croce del Corvo. According to writings from a monk named Ilaro, when Dante arrived at the monastery and was asked what he was looking for, he simply responded: “Peace”. With these words, the dialogue between Dante and Corrado Malaspina begins, in Canto VIII of Purgatorio, an encounter that hides a prophecy and tells of the deep bond between the Supreme Poet and the land of Lunigiana.
In the mountainous rural region, which has several beautiful medieval castles. visit the local Dante museum which explores the links between Dante and Lunigiana. And since 2011, the town of Mulazzo has held annual historical reenactments in April to commemorate the poet’s arrival in the city.
Dante went to Venice numerous times during his period of exile. The first was for a few months in August 1321 to resolve a diplomatic dispute. Dante was stayed with his good friend, a nobleman named Giovanni Soranzo, one of the most influential nobles of the time, and even now you can read a plaque on the front of the beautiful Gothic palace of the Soranzo family, which faces on the right side of the beautiful Campo San Polo that reminds us of him.
Dante was very impressed by Venice, but above all he was inspired by the Arsenal, the shipyard where the Venetians created their incredible fleet and which at that time was in full swing. In fact, in the twenty-first canto of the Inferno, to explain the punishment reserved for swindlers, and uses it as a simile to evoke the movement and restlessness of sinners in Inferno. This is ironic, because while the Venetians produced beautiful ships, the sinners’ activity is futile.
The city is mentioned again in Paradiso, in Canto IX to identify a specific geographical context, that is the territory between Venice (indicated with a metonymy through Rialto – on the island of Rivoalto the first settlement of the city) and the mountains of Trentino and Cadore where the Brenta and Piave rivers are born. Finally, in the XIX Canto del Paradiso he names the “coinage” of Venice, that is the silver matapan coin, in the invective against contemporary princes (such as Stephen Urosus II, king of Rascia, the region corresponding to what was Yugoslavia) who had altered the alloy of a coin to make it resemble the Venetian one and make them assume the same value).
Dante si riferisce a Treviso attraverso la citazione dei due fiumi che convergono e in essa si uniscono. Overlooking the bend where the Sile joins the Cagnan, the Ponte Dante inn is located in a magnificent and timeless place, mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy as if to represent, in the beauty of this glimpse, the entire city of Treviso.
Dante visited San Leo passing through in 1306. Dante is counted among the illustrious people who passed through San Leo; place known probably both for the known frequentations with Ugoccione della Faggiola, lord of nearby Casteldelci, and for the description he makes of it in Canto IV of Purgatory. The great poet has to describe a hard, tiring and impervious climb, so he compares the place where it is found in the Divine Comedy to royal locations famous for their harshness. The cliff of San Leo is mentioned for the clear difficulty in accessing it such as the descent towards Noli in Liguria and Mount Bismantova in the Reggio Apennines up to mention Mount Cacume near Frosinone.
Faenza is certainly one of the cities best known to Dante Alighieri, who in the Divine Comedy mentions several characters from Faenza or connected with Faenza. Maghinardo Pagani da Susinana, lord of Faenza and Imola at the time, is mentioned in both Hell and Purgatory. On November 13, 1280, Tebaldello treacherously opens Porta Imolese to the Geremei and their Guelph allies, allowing them to massacre the Ghibellines.
In the IX Circle of Hell, in the Antenòra area, where traitors to the homeland are punished, Dante clashes with Bocca degli Abati, who points out other traitors who are serving their sentence in that place. Among these is Tebaldello Zambrasi, a Guelph of Faenza, who on the night of 13 November 1280 opened the city gates to the Bolognese Geremei, on the Guelph side, who were thus able to massacre their rivals, the Ghibellines Lambertazzi, refugees in the city after being been expelled from Bologna.
Bertinoro, the “Balcony of Romagna”, with a magnificent view of the sea and the hills, is also an ancient village that has preserved its ancient structure with cobbled streets and glimpses of other times. Even Dante Alighieri was able to enjoy the hospitality of Bertinoro, the great poet’s story leads to Polenta. Dante spent the final years of his life (from 1317 al 1321) as a guest at the court of Guido Novello Da Polenta, then Lord of Ravenna, who regained possession of Polenta Castle during that time.
The raid on the castle was met with amazement in the city and Dante decided to visit the fortress and the old church of San Donato. In the hills around the village is Polenta, from which Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna, welcomed the exiled poet who definitely stopped off in the ancient Pieve (parish church) of Lombard origin, still splendidly preserved and sung of by Giosuè Carducci in his beautiful “Ode alla Chiesa di Polenta” (Ode to the Church of Polenta).
Oriago e Mira
Among the best known testimonies there is certainly that of Dante Alighieri, in the fifth canto of the Purgatory (V, 64-84). In this section the poet speaks of Jacopo da Cassero, assassinated in Oriago in 1298 by order of Azzo VIII d’Este. A plaque, which shows the poet’s verses, was placed on the facade of Villa Moro in Oriago.
Dante refers here to the sad end of Jacopo del Cassero, who, after landing on the Brenta bank, found himself chased by the assassins of Azzo VIII, from whom he tried to escape by hiding in the surrounding swamp, where, entangled in the reeds and mud, was reached and mortally wounded, while perhaps he could have been saved if he had instead taken the road towards the center of Mira.
Cesena enjoys the prestige of being explicitly mentioned by the Supreme Poet in the Divine Comedy: in Dante’s time it appeared to be halfway between two worlds, the free municipality of the early Middle Ages and the other towns in the area already subjected to the seignories. Dante’s comparison also describes the peculiar geographical location well: in the centre of Romagna, a short distance from the Adriatic coast and the mountains of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines, bordered by the Savio river, between the plain and the Garampo hill.
Dante reconstructs the origin of Mantua by bringing it back to Manto, daughter of the Theban soothsayer Tiresia, damned among the fortune-tellers of the fourth bedlam. The description starts from Lake Garda and Benaco, and south of that stretch of the Alpine arc that borders Germany and which had one of its major centers, in the Castle of Tirolo, Tirale in the Ladin language, not far from Merano.
To explain to the reader how difficult the ascent of the mountain of Purgatory was, Dante evokes the Pietra di Bismantova, a rocky massif still today a destination for climbers and hikers. Dante not only mentions the splendid monolith, in the fourth canto of the Purgatory, but many scholars agree that the “stone” has inspired the geography of Monte del Purgatorio, helping to determine the structure of the whole second Canticle of the Divine Comedy. Dante describes the Montagna del Purgatorio as a very high mountain, which stands on an island, with sides composed of rocky jumps and a flat space on the top, where he places the Garden of Eden.
A description very similar to the Pietra di Bismantova, which was known in the Middle Ages and which Dante himself had the opportunity to see in person, in 1306, while he was traveling towards Luni, in the province of La Spezia. He was so fascinated by it that he decided to climb up to its summit, admiring the wonderful panorama. The characteristic shape of the stone was then taken up over the centuries by various “illustrators” of the Divine Comedy, among which the most famous is Gustav Doré, at the end of the nineteenth century.
Dante described the beautiful waterfall of Acquacheta, comparing it to the waterfall of the infernal river Flegetone. The wild corner of earthly paradise is nestled among the majestic Casentino forests, made famous by the verses of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy in which his journey from Florence to Ravenna is recounted, passing through the Acquacheta. The wild nature of the landscape is like being in a fairy tale, far from civilization, in an enchanted forest.
The Bastia hill located at the foot of Monte Grappa, in the small town of Romano d’Ezzelino. Dante spoke of it in the Divine Comedy referring to the events of the tyrant Ezzelino III, the famous ” Colle di Dante “, a place outlined in the Divine Comedy as the chosen place for the nefarious memories of Ezzelino III da Romano, the tyrant par excellence.
The Bastia hill, as pleasant for the wide view that you can enjoy from the top of the Venetian plain, as dear to the inhabitants of the place. The tower on the hill is much more recent than Dante’s verses, however on the hill you can see the remains of castle walls. The Ezzelini castle was located a short distance away, on the hill now occupied by the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte in Sopracastello di San Zenone degli Ezzelini.
The reference to Modena in the Divine Comedy is limited to its quotation in a passage in which Dante, through the mouth of Justinian, reconstructs the civil wars that followed the death of Caesar.
Parish church of Soligo
Dante mentions those places, identifying them through the rivers that bathe them, namely the Brenta and the Piave, indicated as the birthplace of Cunizza da Romano, blessed whom Dante encounters in the Third Heaven of Paradise. Cunizza is the sister of Ezzelino III da Romano.
Dante had already been in Ravenna before, presumably in 1303 and in 1310. He also wandered in the pine forest of Classe. Dante and his children spent two years of his exile in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna. Dante supplemented and completed the Divine Comedy in the last years of his life, therefore, many of the details described in it were inspired by Ravenna.
In Dante’s days, Ravenna have looked quite differently than the one we know today. The past splendours of the Roman and Byzantine empire were almost a distant memory, and its landscape, poor, unhealthy and surrounded by swamps and canals. In this woeful landscape, the mosaics of the ancient Byzantine churches were a source of light and wonder, witnessing the period of grandeur with their precious and highly artistic treasures.
Stretching south of the well-known Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the The Pine Forest of Classe is a very suggestive place that preserves a timeless fauna and evokes an unspoilt atmosphere, which enticed the Poet to take long walks across the coastal pine forest. A wholly different environment, a natural and wild area that the poet himself cherished. Landscapes, colours, patches of light and shade, were undoubtedly precious sources of inspiration for an artist in search of impressions and imagery. As a matter of face they proved to be useful material for recreating, in writing, the many descriptions that form the backdrop to the encounters in the Divine Comedy.
In 1321, the poet died at the age of 56 as he was returning to the northern town after an ambassadorial trip to Venice. Dante was buried in Ravenna’s Church of San Pier Maggiore (now the church of San Francesco), and a grand tomb was built for him in 1483. Along with the beautiful mosaics Ravenna is famous for, the mausoleum is one of the city’s main historical sites.
When Dante died, his tomb was supposedly a simple sarcophagus just outside the Church of San Francesco. It was Guido Novello da Polenta, lord of Ravenna, who asked for the construction of the chapel to pay homage to him one last time. In 1483, Bernardo Bembo, who ruled the city on account of the Republic of Venice, decided to restore the sarcophagus and commissioned the sculptor Pietro Lombardo a marble bass relief portraying Dante’s face, visible today inside the Tomb.
The current mausoleum was built between 1780 and 1782. It was ordered by Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga (1725 – 1808) and designed by the Ravenna architect Camillo Morigia (1743-1795), who created a little Neoclassical temple made of simple lines and sombre decorations. The inside of the tomb, which has been covered with marble on the occasion of the 1921 centenary, preserves the sepulchre with Dante’s remian and the bass relief by sculptor Pietro Lombardo.
At the bottom of the sarcophagus lies a bronze and silver wreath donated by the victorious army of the First World War, while on the right is the ampoule created by sculptor of Trieste Giovanni Mayer and donated by the Istrian-Dalmatian cities in 1908. At the centre of the little room, a votive lamp burns with the oil donated by Tuscany. Every year, in fact, on the second Sunday of September, the Municipality of Florence sends a delegation and offers the oil to commemorate its fellow citizen.
Next to Dante’s tomb, the monumental complex of the Old Franciscan Cloisters is a corner of paradise and refined beauty in the heart of the city centre of Ravenna. Built in the Middle Ages (1261), the building was a cloister of the Minor Franciscan Friars, set just behind the Basilica of San Francesco, which hosted in 1321 the solemn funerals of the Supreme Poet. Between the 15th and 17th century, a series of works overlapped the original structure. The current aspect of the Old Franciscan Cloisters dates back to the 20s, when the entire area dedicated to Dante took on the Romantic design you still see today.
The complex counts two cloisters, one next to the other, with an in-between space used for exhibitions and conferences. The first cloister is called “Dante” because of its vicinity with his tomb. It features a refined portico, embraced by columns with Doric capitals. At the centre, a well is framed by two columns with Byzantine capitals of the 6th century AD, maybe coming from the Basilica of San Vitale. The second cloister is called “della Cassa”. It is rectangular-shaped and has a portico of columns made of Istrian stone, red Verona marble and Greek marble. The puteal standing at the centre is made of Istrian stone as well.
Not far from the tomb of the Supreme Poet, on the first floor of the former Franciscan convent, Museo Dante is a journey through the works, life and memory of Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language. The Dantesque Museum originally opened in 1921, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 600 years of the poet’s death. The museum was a storage of relics and mementos of the Municipality’s property.
Over the last century, the museum ceased its activity for a long period of time, underwent a series of rearrangements and additions to its layout, also in view of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death occurring in 2021. The museum features several rooms, and offers an emotional journey across history and images. It deals with the human adventure and artistic experience of Dante, focusing on the Comedy and its fortune. A series of relics and objects of great suggestion make the whole experience even more suggestive. On display, you will find the box in which the friars hid the Poet’s remains and the chest in which they were displayed in 1865, after their fortuitous recovery.
Housed in a 14th-century noble villa located just in front of Dante’s Tomb, Dante’s House in Ravenna is the final stop of the itinerary started in Museo Dante. It is a polifunctional space hosting various exhibition areas, a bookshop, a didactic workshop and a meditation court. The first room, realised thanks to the collaboration with the Uffizi Galleries, hosts a long-term exhibition with some very important works loaned by the museum of Florence itself. In a second room you will be able to see Dante’s collections from the Classense Library, the institution that has always taken care of the safeguard, display and scientific management of all the materials related to Dante preserved in the city.
Besides the exhibition areas, Casa Dante hosts a didactic woskshop equipped with working and learning stations for students. Lastly, there is a meditation court that offers an area for reflection, in ideal continuity with the Zone of Silence. Casa Dante finally boasts another area (which is still in preparation), dedicated to design, taking inspiration from Dante’s figure. This space has been created thanks to the prestigious collaboration with Adi design Museum.