Italy

Dante

On the occasion of the seven hundredth anniversary of his death, Italy celebrates the cantos and key places of the great poet

Seven hundred years on from the death of Dante Alighieri, on 14 September 1321 after he contracted malaria in the wetlands of Comacchio whilst travelling back to Ravenna from Venice, we return to the places where this great poet spent much of his life.

Places which inspired the cantos of his Comedy, which became “divine” after Boccaccio made a posthumous addition. From Inferno (Hell) to Paradiso (Heaven), via Purgatorio (Purgatory), there are many references to places and works of art, starting from his home city of Florence, moving on to the valley of Casentino where he was a knight that fought on the front line during the Battle of Campaldino; then to the La Verna monastery, where Francis, a saint who Dante cared for greatly, received the stigmata, before going all the way up to Verona and Ravenna, his last home where the Byzantine mosaics were a source of great inspiration for him, as Professor Ivan Simonini explains in his book I mosaici ravennati nella Divina Commedia (The Mosaics of Ravenna in the Divine Comedy).

In Ravenna, the Franciscan monks hid his bones on two separate occasions: the first was so as not to give them to the Florentines who, on the approval of Pope Leo X, tried to lay claim to them, the second was during World War II, because they feared that the Germans would steal them and take them to Germany.