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DANTE 700

2021 will record a significant date in the history of European literature, being the 700th anniversary of the death of the father of Italian literature: the 'Supreme Poet', Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). Fans of the great poet's most famous writings, such as The New Life and the Divine Comedy, will be able to enjoy a number of exhibitions about him in some of the wonderful Italian locations with which he is connected.

First and foremost among these is the city of Florence, cradle of the Italian Renaissance, which is Dante's birthplace and native city. In the heart of Florence's medieval centre is to be found the Dante House Museum, in the area between the church of S. Martino and Piazza dei Donati. This was the 13th century location of houses belonging to the Alighieri family. At the beginning of the 20th century, after extensive study and research, the Municipal Administration ordered the reconstruction of a house to celebrate the birthplace of Dante. In June last year the museum unveiled a brand-new multimedia display in anticipation of the 2021 celebrations.

                   

                                                   

Nearby is the small Roman Catholic church of Santa Margherita (Chiesa di Santa Margherita) dating back to 1032, referred to as Dante's church because this is where his family attended and where many significant moments in his life are thought to have taken place; it was here that he allegedly first saw his love and muse Beatrice Portinari. Not far away, in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce, a funerary monument to Dante keeps company with the tomb of Michelangelo and a monument to Machiavelli. However Dante is not buried here as he was exiled from Florence in 1301 and his remains are to be found in the coastal city of Ravenna.

At least for the time being, the 'Dante 700' programme of events will have to remain on-line, and in keeping with this requirement Florence's word-famous Uffizi art museum has mounted an online exhibition of beautiful illustrations depicting The Divine Comedy, by the Italian painter Federico Zuccari. Created between 1586 and 1588, these drawings have been reproduced in high definition and have been rarely shown to the public before. Perhaps this will whet the appetite of Dante fans and encourage them to visit, or revisit, Florence as soon as possible in pursuit of the spirit of Dante, whose influence on the city is so significant.

Not to be left out is the northern Italian town of Forli, where Dante took refuge in 1302. A landmark exhibition, 'Dante, The Vision of Art' will be held in the town's Dan Domenico Museums from March 12 to July 4 (subject to COVID restrictions). Forli is situated on the ancient Roman road that crosses the fertile Emilian countryside and the towns of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio nell'Emilia and Modena. Agriculture has long played a pivotal role in this region: its famous gastronomic specialities such as pasta, wine, balsamic vinegar, and salami are not to be missed.

Ravenna will also see its own programme of events (COVID permitting) celebrating the life and works of the 'Supreme Poet' and of course the city has the distinction of preserving Dante's remains in the Dante tomb next to the Basilica of San Francesco. This is a shrine for all devotees of Dante; and there are many other fantastic attractions of Ravenna such as its superb and colourful 5th and 6th century mosaics, among the finest in Europe.

If you have time, why not explore further by following 'Le Vie di Dante' (Roads of Dante) from Florence to Ravenna? - you can retrace the journey of the exiled poet across the Apennine Mountains, experiencing the same silent woods, historic villages, waterfalls and medieval castles.

Date: 22/01/2021 | Author: Jonathan Taylor

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