Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Statue of Dante in the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence

Statue of Dante in the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence [picture by Ron Reznick |] [0]

Travel guide for Tuscany

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri (May/June c.1265 – September 14, 1321), commonly known as Dante, was an Italian poet of the Middle Ages. He was born in Florence. Dante's engagement with philosophy cannot be studied apart from his vocation as a writer, in which he sought to raise the level of public discourse by educating his countrymen and inspiring them to pursue happiness in the contemplative life. Dante wished to summon his audience to the practice of philosophical wisdom, though by means of truths embedded in his own poetry, rather than mysteriously embodied in scripture. His Divina Commedia, originally called Commedia by the author and later nicknamed Divina by Boccaccio, is often considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.
Dante died and is buried in Ravenna.


Dante was born in 1265 in Florence. At the age of 9 he met for the first time the eight-year-old Beatrice Portinari, who became in effect his Muse, and remained, after her death in 1290, the central inspiration for his major poems. Between 1285, when he married and began a family, and 1302, when he was exiled from Florence, he was active in the cultural and civic life of Florence, served as a soldier and held several political offices.
Dante's family was prominent in Florence, with loyalties to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman Emperor.

The poet's mother was Bella degli Abati. She died when Dante was not yet ten years old.

Dante fought in the front rank of the Guelph cavalry at the battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289). This victory brought forth a reformation of the Florentine constitution. To take any part in public life, one had to be enrolled in one of "the arts". So Dante entered the guild of physicians and apothecaries. In following years, his name is frequently found recorded as speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic.

Education and poetry

Not much is known about Dante's education, and it is presumed he studied at home. It is known that he studied Tuscan poetry, at a time when the Sicilian School (Scuola poetica Siciliana), a cultural group from Sicily, was becoming known in Tuscany. His interests brought him to discover the Occitan poetry of the troubadours and the Latin poetry of classical antiquity (with a particular devotion to Virgil).

During the Secoli Bui, the Dark Ages, Italy had become a mosaic of small states, Sicily being the largest one, at the time under Angevin rule, and as far (culturally and politically) from Tuscany as Occitania was: the regions did not share a language,[citation needed] culture or easy communications. Nevertheless, we can assume that Dante was a keen up-to-date intellectual with international interests.

When he was nine years old he met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of Folco Portinari, with whom he fell in love "at first sight", and apparently without even having spoken to her. He saw her frequently after age 18, often exchanging greetings in the street, but he never knew her well; he effectively set the example for the so-called "courtly love". It is hard now to understand what this love actually consisted of, but something extremely important was happening within Italian culture. It was in the name of this love that Dante gave his imprint to the "Dolce Stil Novo" (Sweet New Style) and would lead poets and writers to discover the themes of Love (Amore), which had never been so emphasized before. Love for Beatrice (as in a different manner Petrarch would show for his Laura) would apparently be the reason for poetry and for living, together with political passions. In many of his poems, she is depicted as semi-divine, watching over him constantly. When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante tried to find a refuge in Latin literature. The Convivio reveals that he had read Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae and Cicero's De amicitia. He then dedicated himself to philosophical studies at religious schools like the Dominican one in Santa Maria Novella. He took part in the disputes that the two principal mendicant orders (Franciscan and Dominican) publicly or indirectly held in Florence, the former explaining the doctrine of the mystics and of Saint Bonaventure, the latter presenting Saint Thomas Aquinas' theories.

At 18, Dante met Guido Cavalcanti, Lapo Gianni, Cino da Pistoia and soon after Brunetto Latini; together they became the leaders of the Dolce Stil Novo. Brunetto later received a special mention in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, XV, 28), for what he had taught Dante. Nor speaking less on that account, I go With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are His most known and most eminent companions. Some fifty poetical components by Dante are known (the so-called Rime, rhymes), others being included in the later Vita Nuova and Convivio. Other studies are reported, or deduced from Vita Nuova or the Comedy, regarding painting and music.[4]

Florence and politics

Dante, like most Florentines of his day, was embroiled in the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict. He fought in the battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289), with the Florentine Guelphs against Arezzo Ghibellines, then in 1294 he was among the escorts of Charles Martel of Anjou (grandson of Charles I of Naples more commonly called Charles of Anjou) while he was in Florence. To further his political career, he became a pharmacist. He did not intend to actually practice as one, but a law issued in 1295 required that nobles who wanted public office had to be enrolled in one of the Corporazioni delle Arti e dei Mestieri, so Dante obtained admission to the apothecaries' guild. This profession was not entirely inapt, since at that time books were sold from apothecaries' shops. As a politician, he accomplished little, but he held various offices over a number of years in a city undergoing political unrest.

After defeating the Ghibellines, the Guelphs divided into two factions: the White Guelphs (Guelfi Bianchi) -- Dante's party, led by Vieri dei Cerchi -- and the Black Guelphs (Guelfi Neri), led by Corso Donati. Although initially the split was along family lines, ideological differences rose based on opposing views of the papal role in Florentine affairs, with the Blacks supporting the Pope and the Whites wanting more freedom from Rome. Initially the Whites were in power and expelled the Blacks. In response, Pope Boniface VIII planned a military occupation of Florence. In 1301, Charles de Valois, brother of Philip the Fair king of France, was expected to visit Florence because the Pope had appointed him peacemaker for Tuscany. But the city's government had treated the Pope's ambassadors badly a few weeks before, seeking independence from papal influence. It was believed that Charles de Valois would eventually have received other unofficial instructions. So the council sent a delegation to Rome to ascertain the Pope's intentions. Dante was one of the delegates.

Profile portrait of Dante, by Sandro Botticelli

Dante grande.png

Andrea del Castagno, Dante Alighieri, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women, (detail), c. 1450


Exile and death

Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to remain in Rome. At the same time (November 1, 1301), Charles de Valois entered Florence with Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph government was installed and Messer Cante de' Gabrielli da Gubbio was appointed Podestà of Florence. Dante was condemned to exile for two years, and ordered to pay a large fine. The poet was still in Rome, where the Pope had "suggested" he stay, and was therefore considered an absconder. He did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not guilty, and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the Black Guelphs. He was condemned to perpetual exile, and if he returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could be burned at the stake. (The city council of Florence finally passed a motion rescinding Dante's sentence in June 2008.)

He took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain power, but these failed due to treachery. Dante, bitter at the treatment he received from his enemies, also grew disgusted with the infighting and ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies, and vowed to become a party of one. Dante went to Verona as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved to Sarzana in Liguria. Later, he is supposed to have lived in Lucca with a lady called Gentucca, who made his stay comfortable (and was later gratefully mentioned in Purgatorio, XXIV, 37). Some speculative sources claim he visited Paris between 1308 and 1310 and others, even less trustworthy, take him to Oxford: these claims, first occurring in Boccacio's book on Dante several decades after his death, seem inspired by readers being impressed with the poet's wide learning and erudition. Evidently Dante's command of philosophy and his literary interests deepened in exile, when he was no longer busy with the day-to-day business of Florentine domestic politics, and this is evidenced in his prose writings in this period, but there is no real indication that he ever left Italy. In 1310, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg, marched 5,000 troops into Italy. Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also re-take Florence from the Black Guelphs. He wrote to Henry and several Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Mixing religion and private concerns, he invoked the worst anger of God against his city, suggesting several particular targets that coincided with his personal enemies. It was during this time that he wrote De Monarchia, proposing a universal monarchy under Henry VII. [2]

In 1312, Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Some say he refused to participate in the assault on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs too and that any trace of his passage had carefully been removed. In 1313, Henry VII died (from fever), and with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. He returned to Verona, where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in a certain security and, presumably, in a fair amount of prosperity. Cangrande was admitted to Dante's Paradise (Paradiso, XVII, 76).
  Andrea del Castagno, Dante Alighieri,
Andrea del Castagno, Dante Alighieri, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women, c. 1450. Detached fresco. 247 x 153 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze.
The picture shows one of the three Tuscan poets represented in the cycle.
In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to people in exile, including Dante. But Florence required that as well as paying a sum of money, these exiles would do public penance. Dante refused, preferring to remain in exile. When Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante's death sentence was commuted to house arrest, on condition that he go to Florence to swear that he would never enter the town again. Dante refused to go. His death sentence was confirmed and extended to his sons. Dante still hoped late in life that he might be invited back to Florence on honorable terms. For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping him of much of his identity and his heritage. He addresses the pain of exile in Paradiso, XVII (55-60), where Cacciaguida, his great-great-grandfather, warns him what to expect:

... Tu lascerai ogne cosa diletta ...
più caramente; e questo è quello strale
che l'arco de lo essilio pria saetta.
Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale ...
You shall leave everything you love most:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others' bread, how salty it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
ascending and descending others' stairs ...


As for the hope of returning to Florence, he describes it as if he had already accepted its impossibility, (Paradiso, XXV, 1–9):

Se mai continga che 'l poema sacro
al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
sì che m'ha fatto per molti anni macro,
vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
del bello ovile ov'io dormi' agnello,
nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra;
con altra voce omai, con altro vello
ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte
del mio battesmo prenderò 'l cappello ...
If it ever come to pass that the sacred poem
to which both heaven and earth have set their hand
so as to have made me lean for many years
should overcome the cruelty that bars me
from the fair sheepfold where I slept as a lamb,
an enemy to the wolves that make war on it,
with another voice now and other fleece
I shall return a poet and at the font
of my baptism take the laurel crown ...

Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished the Paradiso, and died in 1321 (at the age of 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, possibly of malaria contracted there. Dante was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice in 1483, took care of his remains by building a better tomb.

Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante's exile, and made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta - which roughly translates as "Honour the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.

Domenico di Michelino, Dante and the Three Kingdoms, 1465
Domenico di Michelino, Dante and the Three Kingdoms, 1465, oil on canvas, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence


The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa" - "at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

By its serious purpose, its literary stature and the range - both stylistically and in subject matter - of its content, the Comedy soon became a cornerstone in the evolution of Italian as an established literary language. Dante was more aware than most earlier Italian writers of the variety of Italian dialects and of the need to create a literature beyond the limits of Latin writing at the time, and a unified literary language; in that sense he is a forerunner of the renaissance with its effort to create vernacular literature in competition with earlier classical writers. Dante's in-depth knowledge (within the realms of the time) of Roman antiquity and his evident admiration for some aspects of pagan Rome also point forward to the 15th century. Ironically, while he was widely honoured in the centuries after his death, the Comedy slipped out of fashion among men of letters: too medieval, too rough and tragical and not stylistically refined in the respects that the high and late renaissance came to demand of literature.

He wrote the Comedy in a language he called "Italian", in some sense an amalgamated literary language mostly based on the regional dialect of Tuscany, with some elements of Latin and of the other regional dialects. [3]

Dante, poised between the mountain of purgatory and the city of Florence, displays the famous incipit Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita in a detail of Domenico di Michelino's painting, Florence 1465 [1]
Dante's other works include the Convivio ("The Banquet")[8] a collection of his longest poems with an (unfinished) allegorical commentary; Monarchia,[9] a summary treatise of political philosophy in Latin, which was condemned and burned after Dante's death[10][11] by the Papal Legate Bertrando del Poggetto, which argues for the necessity of a universal or global monarchy in order to establish universal peace in this life, and this monarchy's relationship to the Roman Catholic Church as guide to eternal peace; De vulgari eloquentia ("On the Eloquence of Vernacular"),[12] on vernacular literature, partly inspired by the Razos de trobar of Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun; and, La Vita Nuova ("The New Life"),[13] the story of his love for Beatrice Portinari, who also served as the ultimate symbol of salvation in the Comedy. The Vita Nuova contains many of Dante's love poems in Tuscan, which was not unprecedented; the vernacular had been regularly used for lyric works before, during all the thirteenth century. One of the most famous poems is Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare, which many Italians can recite by heart. However, Dante's commentary on his own work is also in the vernacular - both in the Vita Nuova and in the Convivio - instead of the Latin that was almost universally used. References to Divina Commedia are in the format (book, canto, verse), e.g., (Inferno, XV, 76).

Luca Signorelli, detail from Dante with Scenes from the Divine Comedy, San Brizio Chapel, Duomo, Orvieto

In the 1480s, the great Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli was commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici to illustrate Dante's Divine Comedy. Botticelli's genius as a pictorial narrator made him ideally suited to the commission and he followed the text meticulously, giving extraordinary visual form to the poet's epic tripartite journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Executed on large sheets of sheepskin parchment, each extraordinarily delicate ink line drawing illustrates one canto or section of Dante's poem.

Dante imagined Hell as being an abyss with nine circles, which in turn divided into various rings. Botticelli's cross-section view of the underworld is drawn so finely and precisely that it is possible to trace the individual stops made by Dante and Virgil on their descent to the centre of the earth. Botticelli’s illustrations for the Divine Comedy were begun about a century and a half after Dante’s death. Between 1480 and 1495, the artist followed the poet canto by canto. Ninety-two of the drawings survived.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli | Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy
The Ptolemaic geocentric model of the Universe according to the Portuguese cosmographer and cartographer Bartolomeu Velho (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris).


Museo Casa di Dante |
The Museo - Casa di Dante is located in medieval Florence, in Via Santa Margherita, 1. In 1910, on commission of the respective Florentine authorities, the renowned architect Giuseppe Castelluci designed the reconstruction of a tower house from the 13th century to host a didactic museum devoted to Dante Alighieri.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli | Illustrations for Dante's Divina Comedia
Sandro Botticelli began illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy at the request of Lorenzo di Pier Francesco di Medici around 1490. His drawings let us share the Florentine artist’s fascination for this masterpiece of poetry and humanism from the imagination of Dante Alighieri.
Thoroughly steeped in Dante’s poems, Botticelli produced some very detailed illustrations on parchment on the back of the manuscript calligraphed by Nicolaus Mangona between 1481 and 1503. Work on parchment usually started with a design marked out with a stylet, corrected and reworked in metal point. Next, just the outlines and key lines of the basic design of the miniature were given an opaque greyish-brown primer with a brush, allowing the possibility of minor corrections. All these steps, including that of colouring-in, demonstrate a constant evolution towards increasingly perfect forms executed by Botticelli’s hand.

British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts | Dante Alighieri | Divina Commedia, between 1444 and c. 1450 | Inferno and Purgatorio (ff. 1-128), and all historiated initials illuminated by Priamo della Quercia between 1442 and 1450 (previously attributed to Lorenzo Vecchietta; Paradiso (ff. 129-190v) illuminated by Giovanni di Paolo c. 1450.

Gardner, Edmund Garratt (1921). Dante, London, Pub. for the British academy by H. Milford, Oxford University Press.

Hede, Jesper. (2007). Reading Dante: The Pursuit of Meaning. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Raffa, Guy P. (2009). The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Divine Comedy. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226702704.

Scott, John A. (1996). Dante's Political Purgatory, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Seung, T. K. (1962). The Fragile Leaves of the Sibyl: Dante's Master Plan. Westminster, MD: Newman Press.

Toynbee, Paget (1898) A Dictionary of the Proper Names and Notable Matters in the Works of Dante. London, The Clarendon Press.

Whiting, Mary Bradford (1922). Dante the Man and the Poet. Cambridge, England. W. Heffer & Sons, ltd.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Biography, on his works and bibliography

The World of Dante
| multimedia, texts, maps, gallery, searchable database, music, teacher resources, timeline

The Princeton Dante Project | texts and multimedia

The Dartmouth Dante Project | searchable database of commentary

Società Dantesca Italiana (bilingual site) | manuscripts of works, images and text transcripts

Dante Alighieri, La divina commedia
| Integral text

Works | Italian and Latin texts, concordances and frequency lists

Works by Dante Alighieri at Project Gutenberg

The World of Dante |
By the time of his death Botticelli had fallen out of fashion and remained largely forgotten until his rediscovery in the late nineteenth century. From that time on, he has been appreciated primarily for the delicacy, gracefulness, and linear beauty of his mythological works from the 1480s, the Primavera and the Birth of Venus. Both of these works reveal not only Botticelli's poetic sensibilities, but his contact with Florentine poets
Giorgio Vasari, our most important early source on Botticelli, wrote in 1550 that "Since Botticelli was a learned man, he wrote a commentary on part of Dante's poem, and after illustrating the Inferno, he printed the work." Vasari refers Botticelli's drawings for some of the engravings by Baccio Baldini that adorned the first edition of the Divine Comedy published in Florence, in 1481, with commentary by Cristoforo Landino. Botticelli also painted a portrait of the poet, probably to adorn the library of a scholar. These two projects reflect the revival of interest in Dante in late fifteenth-century Florence.


Several remarkable illustrated Dante manuscripts exist. To the codex in the British Library, London, Giovanni di Paolo created the magnificent pictures for the Paradiso section. The miniature of the Canto IX shows the city of Florence with Giotto's famous Bell tower at its centre. From one of its towers, a devil announces the offences of the Powerful of this world. On the left, Dante is lifted in the air by Beatrice and beholds the heroine of love, Cunizza of Treviso, who appears in an aura of light.

Some initials in this manuscript are attributed to the Sienese fresco painter Vecchietta.

Illustration of Dante's Paradiso, canto X, first circle of the 12 teachers of wisdom led by Thomas Aquinas Manuscript: British Library, Yates Thompson 36, fol. 147 (between 1442 and c.1450). Dante and Beatrice meet twelve wise men in the Sphere of the Sun (miniature by Giovanni di Paolo), Canto 10.


[0] Piazza Santa Croce is one of the main squares of the centre of Florence. It's located near piazza della Signoria and the National Central Library, and takes its name by the Basilica of Santa Croce that overlook the square. The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Niccolò Machiavelli, Enrico Fermi, Galileo Galilei, Ugo Foscolo, Guglielmo Marconi, Luigi Cherubini, Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri, Gioacchino Rossini, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Lorenzo Bartolini, Pier Antonio Micheli, Bartolomeo Cristofori, Giovanni Gentile, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).
In front of the Basilica of Santa Croce is located a marble statue made by Enrico Pazzi decidated to Dante Alighieri. For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping him of much of his identity and his heritage.
Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante's exile, and made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honour the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.

[1] Domenico di Michelino was an Italian painter. He took his name from his teacher, a carver in bone and ivory named Michelino. He was elected to the Compagnia di S Luca in 1442 and joined the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali on 26 October 1444. In 1459 he received payment from Lorenzo Pucci for a processional banner (untraced) for a confraternity based in S Francesco, Cortona. Four years later he was paid for some figures of saints (untraced) for a cupboard belonging to the Compagnia di S Maria della Purificazione e di S Zanobi, a Florentine confraternity of which he had been a member since 1445.
Michelino predominantly painted scenes from the Bible, however, his most famous work is the painting in the Florence Cathedral, Dante and the Three Kingdoms.
He had his painterly training under Fra Angelico whose assistant he also became. His style is similar to that of Filippo Lippi and Pesellino.
In this painting the three kingdoms are represented: the Purgatory in the centre background, the Hell at left, and the heavenly City at right. This painting is especially interesting because it shows us, apart from scenes of the Divine Comedy, a view of Florence in 1465, a Florence such as Dante himself could not have seen in his time.

[2] At some point during his exile he conceived of the Comedy, but the date cannot be specified. The work is much more assured, and on a larger scale, than anything he had produced in Florence, and it is likely that he would have undertaken such a work only after he realized that his personal political ambitions, which had been central to him up to his banishment, would have to be put on hold for some time, possibly for ever. It is also noticeable that Beatrice has returned to his imagination with renewed force and with a wider meaning than in the Vita Nuova; in Convivio (written c.1304-07) he had declared that the memory of this youthful romance belonged to the past. One of the earliest outside indications that the poem was under way is a notice by the law professor Francesco da Barberino, tucked into his I Documenti d'Amore (Lessons of Love) and written probably in 1314 or early 1315: speaking of Virgil, da Barberino notes in appreciative words that Dante followed the Roman classic in a poem called the Comedy, and that the setting of this poem (or part of it) was the underworld, that is, Hell[3]. Unfortunately, the brief note gives no incontestable indication that he himself had seen or read even Inferno, or that this part had been published at the time, but it indicates that composition was well under way and that the sketching of the poem may likely have begun some years before. We know that Inferno had been published by 1317; this is established by quoted lines interspersed in the margins of contemporary dated records from Bologna, but there is no certainty whether the three parts of the poem were published each part in full or a few cantos at a time. Paradiso seems to have been published posthumously.

[3] The aim was to deliberately reach a readership throughout Italy, both laymen, clergymen and other poets. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is sometimes nicknamed la langue de Dante. Publishing in the vernacular language marked Dante as one of the first (among others such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio) to break free from standards of publishing in only Latin (the language of liturgy, history, and scholarship in general), but often also of lyric poetry). This break set a precedent and allowed more literature to be published for a wider audience - setting the stage for greater levels of literacy in the future. However, unlike Boccaccio, Milton or Ariosto, Dante didn't really become an author read all over Europe until the romantic era. To the romantics, Dante, like Homer and Shakespeare, was a prime example of the "original genius" who sets his own rules, creates persons of overpowering stature and depth and goes far beyond any imitation of the patterns of earlier masters and who, in turn, cannot really be imitated. Throughout the 19th century, Dante's reputation grew and solidified, and by the time of the 1865 jubilee, he had become solidly established as one of the greatest literary icons of the Western world.

Readers often cannot understand how such a serious work may be called a "comedy". In Dante's time, all serious scholarly works were written in Latin (a tradition that would persist for several hundred years more, until the waning years of the Enlightenment) and works written in any other language were assumed to be more trivial in nature. Furthermore, the word "comedy," in the classical sense, refers to works which reflect belief in an ordered universe, in which events not only tended towards a happy or "amusing" ending, but an ending influenced by a Providential will that orders all things to an ultimate good. By this meaning of the word, as Dante himself wrote in a letter to Cangrande I della Scala, the progression of the pilgrimage from Hell to Paradise is the paradigmatic expression of comedy, since the work begins with the pilgrim's moral confusion and ends with the vision of God.

[4] Giotto is painting the portrait of Dante on a chapel wall, while Beatrice moves below in a procession of women. Cimabue is on the right. Six lines of Italian verse from Dante's Purgatorio, followed by the two opening lines of a sonnet from the Vita Nuova, are inscribed below the drawing.

“Credete Cimabue nella pintura
Tener lo campo; ed ora ha Giotto il grido,
Sì che la fama di colui s'oscura.
Così ha tolto l'uno all'altro Guido
La gloria della lingua; e forse è nato
Chi l'uno e l'altro caccierà di nido.”

Vede perfettamente ogni salute
Chi la mia donna—tra le donne—vede.

According to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the picture “illustrates a passage in the Purgatorio [XI. 94-99] where Dante speaks of Cimabue, Giotto, the two Guidos (Guinicelli and Cavalcanti. . .) and, by implication, himself. For the introduction of Beatrice, who with the other women. . .are making a procession through the church, I quote a passage from the Vita Nuova [XXVI: Sonnet: For certain he hath seen all perfectness]” (see Rossetti's letter to Thomas Woolner, 1 January 1853, Fredeman, Correspondence, 53. 1). Rossetti made a translation of the passage from Dante.
The picture was to have been the first in a Dantescan triptych. The other two panels of the triptych would have shown Dante as a Florentine magistrate sentencing Cavalcanti to exile, and Dante at the court of Can Grande della Scala.
A complex set of historical circumstances invest this picture. Giotto's original picture—a fresco celebrating the glory of Florence—included the figure of Dante holding a pomegranate. It was painted sometime between 1290-1300 on the altar wall of the Palace of the Podesta (later the Bargello) in Florence, but was subsequently covered with whitewash. It was rediscovered in 1840. Seymour Kirkup, one of the scholars who made the discovery, made a copy of the portrait of Dante and sent it to Gabriele Rossetti.
Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante |


A plaque in the Abbey of Vallombrosa commemorates a visit from Dante

Beatrice, celebrated in the Vita Nuova and Commedia, is Dante's inspiration and spiritual guide in the later work. Dante's Beatrice is generally identified as Beatrice Portinari, the daughter of a banker and wife of Simone dei Bardi, who died at the age of 24. In the Comedy Beatrice is an image of absolute perfection and functions as an intermediary in Dante's ascent to God. Without Beatrice Dante's Comedy would not exist.

Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey
Abbey of Sant 'Antimo
L'eremo di Montesiepi (the Hermitage of Montesiepi)
This page uses material from the Wikipedia articles Dante Alighieri and Sistine Chapel, published under the GNU Free Documentation License.


Holiday accomodation in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia | Artist and writer's residency


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden view, December
View from terrace with a stunning view over the Maremma and Montecristo

The Villa Tommasi in Metelliano
The Valle d'Ombrone and Castello Banfi
  Torre Alfina is a fraction of Acquapendente, a charming medieval village, located on the top of a hill of volcanic origin.
Florence, Santa Croce
Florence, Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence, Santa Croce
Florence, Piazza della Repubblica
According to some legends, the beautiful Pia, Nello d'Inghiramo de Pannocchieschi's sorrowful wife, crossed this bridge to go into exile in Maremma, at Castello della Pietra. Dante Alighieri wrote about this legend (Divine Commedy, Purgatorio, Canto V).    

"Oh, when you will have come back into the world
And you will have rested from the long walk,
follow the third spirit, after the second,
remember me, I am Pia,
born in Siena and died in Maremma.
How I died, he, who first gave me his ring
And then married me, knows."

View from Podere Santa Pia on the Marremma hills