In the birthplace of Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language, today there is a building rebuilt in 1911 that houses the Casa di Dante, the Dante House Museum.
Dante’s house no longer exists, but the places frequented by the poet are still imbued with his presence and the charm of medieval Florence.
“The Supreme Poet,” author of The Divine Comedy, was a man of great passions.
In Florence, in the places where his museum is now located, Dante experienced the fire of love for Beatrice and a strong passion for politics and poetry.
In Dante’s time, Florence was a tangle of medieval streets, and the old town did not look like it does today.
Dante himself wrote that he had lived “in the shadow of the Badia Fiorentina,” in the parish of St. Martin (parrocchia di San Martino).
We know very little about his family, but certainly a strong and stormy nature was common to all members of the Alighieri family!
Medieval chronicles tell of a bitter dispute with the priest of the parish of St. Martin.
The discussion concerned a fig tree belonging to the land of the Alighieri family, which had damaged a wall of the adjacent church with its roots.
So strong was the stubbornness of the Alighieri family that the matter was even submitted to the bishop of Florence!
Dante frequently visited these sites when he lived in Florence, that is, until the age of thirty, when he was forced into exile because of his political beliefs.
At the time of Dante, Florence was inflamed by a political struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines.
The poet belonged to the faction of White Guelphs and was very active in defending his beliefs.
In The Divine Comedy, Dante spoke with respect of Farinata degli Uberti, leader of the rival faction, and criticized the destruction of his home in Florence, which was located where the Palazzo Vecchio stands today.
Dante was a true Florentine, sanguine, passionate and deeply loved his city.
He also loved his fellow citizens, although he condemned their behavior to such an extent that many of them were placed in Hell . . .
In the Casa di Dante, Robert Langdon searches for a copy of The Divine Comedy.
If you are interested in reading a good, easy to understand rendition of The Divine Comedy which includes several drawings selected from Botticelli’s series of illustrations, we reccommend the Mandelbaum edition.
with commentary by American professor Allen Mandelbaum, a popular modern rendition which includes forty-two Botticelli‘s illustrations
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Picture by aphextim.