Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Divinely Dante in Florence

Follow the Florence trail of Dante, the writer of the Divine Comedy, one of the most acclaimed literary masterpieces in world history. Dante Alighieri, Florentine born, frequented Florence apartments –many of which are still the same today- and streets at the end of the 13th century until his political banishment from Florence. In the years that succeeded, he wrote some of his works, as well as the Divine comedy, between 1308 and his death in 1321.

The 14,000 lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy or Divina Commedia unfold as the writer takes a journey through the three Christian phases of the afterlife; Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Heaven (Paradiso). Written in the first person, the poem’s famed allegory and Christian themes, along with the Italian language used, helped to portray the religious and scientific ideas of those times in Florence and in the Western World, while establishing the Tuscan dialect in a historical context.

When in Florence, it’s worth visiting those monuments of a great literary past with Dante, as follows:

Baptistery of San Giovanni- Where Dante was christened. There is a painting depicting Dante showing Florence his poem, painted in 1465 by Domenico di Michelino.

Via Corso and the houses of Portinari- Where Beatrice lived; Dante’s obsession as portrayed in La Vita Nouva.

Chiesa di Santa Margherita de' Cerchi- The Florence church in which Dante is believed to have married Gemma Donati in 1295.

Florence’s House of Dante - A little museum with articles pertaining to Dante’s life and works.

Palazzo del Bargello- The building in which Dante’s banishment from Florence was proclaimed.

There is a Giotto fresco of Dante in Paradise, in the building’s chapel.

Chiesa di Santa Croce- See the Dante sculpture outside the church, created by Enrico Pezzi in 1865.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella- Frescoes by Nardo di Cione which show Dante’s Paradise and Hell.

For enthusiasts of literature, a trip to Dante’s monuments in Florence will make for an interesting trip.

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