It is said that Dante would frequent the Piazza del Duomo in Florence on summer evenings, perch himself on a ruin, exposed to the cool breeze, and remain there until dark.
In his work entitled La Vita Nova, Dante wrote that in 1291 he used to sit with his hand and think about Beatrice, drawing an angel with his finger over a few small clouds.
Beatrice had died the previous year. It is therefore almost certain that the legend of the stone of Dante is based on actual events.
Dante often remained there alone in thought, occasionally speaking with friends who passed by. Also, since he was considered a great sage, many visited him seeking advice.
While the stone of Dante is now lost, an inscription remains indicating the exact location where Dante sat, probably in part to admire the construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore, just recently begun.
The inscription is located between the Piazza delle Pallottole and the Via dello Studio, and relates a humorous episode concerning this habit of Dante:
At one time a friend of Dante, a merchant from Bologna attempted to engage him in a conversation about food. However, the poet would not pay any attention to him.
Finally, the merchant asked him: “what is your favorite food?” Without looking at him, Dante replied: “the hard-boiled egg”.
The merchant then went away, and many months passed.
When the merchant returned to town for business, he wanted to see the progress of the construction of Santa Maria del Fiore and passed nearby. He found Dante in the place where they had met months earlier, still deep in thought.
Wanting to play a trick on Dante undetected, he came up from behind him and, remembering the poet’s last reply, asked him: “… with what?” Without hesitation, Dante replied: “with salt.”
This anectode is a favourite among the Florentines, who see themselves as shy and slightly eccentric, but intelligent and witty, like Dante.
Pictures by Wikimedia and ema-rete.comuni-italiani