Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) : A 700 year-long mystery

Updated: Jul 8, 2021


This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the medieval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, known as the Father of the Italian language. Throughout Italy there is a dense calendar of commemorative online events. In his life Dante travelled and lived in different places. Florence, which exiled him; Verona which first hosted him and then let him go; and Ravenna, who welcomed him until the end of his days. With in-between stops in Rome, Arezzo, Pisa, Bologna, Forli...

Dante in reading, detail. Marble bas-relief by Pietro Lombardo (1435-1515). Ravenna, tomb of Dante

The first date to mark on the agenda is March 25: from 2019 this day has officially become the “DanteDay”. According to scholars, in fact, on March 25th 1300 Dante began his descent into the underworld “In the middle of the journey of our life”. And on March 25 various events are scheduled to remember him: conferences, web directives, concerts.

DanteDay joins ShakespeareDay, celebrated every year throughout the United Kingdom and around the world on April 23, the presumed date of birth (1564) of the poet of Hamlet and of Romeo and Juliet; and after that, a Bloomsday, which since 1950 is celebrated every year in Dublin and elsewhere on June 16, the birth day (in 1904) of the Irish writer James Joyce, commemorating his masterpiece, Ulysses, through the figure of the protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

Florence’s Uffizi Gallery has initiated the Dante anniversary by making available, for the first time on line on its website, 88 rarely displayed drawings of Dante’s masterpiece, “Divine Comedy”. The virtual show of high-resolution images of works by the 16th-Century Renaissance artist Federico Zuccari (1539-1609) (famous for having frescoed the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore), is accessible “for free, any hour of the day, for everyone,’’ said Uffizi director Eike Schmidt. Schmidt said the drawings are a “great resource” for Dante scholars and students, as well as “anyone who likes to be inspired by Dante’s pursuit of knowledge and virtue.” “The Divine Comedy” is an epic poem in three parts recounting a pilgrim’s travels through hell, purgatory and heaven.

ACT welcomes fellow blogger Patrizia Poggi. She is a writer and Ambassador of Knowledge and Flavors of Italy & Friends, the Diplomatic Representative Network of Knowledge and Flavors of Italy, based in Florence, which helps to raise awareness of the wonders of Italy. Patrizia recounts her story which is fascinating, mysterious and immersive.

Marysia Zipser ****

A 700 year-long mystery : In September 1321 Dante Alighieri died. By Patrizia Poggi

When talking about Dante, the mind immediately runs to Florence but, in spite of what one might think, Dante is not buried in the Tuscan capital, but in Ravenna, the city where he died on the night between 13 and 14 September 1321. It is in fact in Emilia-Romagna that the Supreme Poet, exiled from his hometown, spent his last years. And it is here that, even to-day, it is possible to visit the neoclassical sepulchre which contains his remains. An epitaph in Latin celebrates the memory of Dante, whose tomb is located in the centre of Ravenna. It was in Ravenna that Dante concluded the songs of Paradise by completing his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy.

Ravenna, city of art, culture, sea, nature, bell towers, monastic cloisters and splendid early Christian religious monuments on the World Heritage List of UNESCO: ​But Ravenna is above all the city of Byzantine mosaics and of Dante, who spent the last years of his life in this corner of Romagna, composing the conclusive songs of Paradise. Just in Ravenna the «Supreme Poet» died the night between 13 and 14 September 1321, probably following an attack of malaria contracted on his return from a diplomatic mission carried out in Venice. The solemn funeral took place in the Basilica of San Francesco and his body placed in a marble sarcophagus placed outside the church, next to the walls of the Franciscan convent, to which Dante was very devoted. The religious themselves also built the