Following Dante Alighieri’s footsteps

A tour where you’ll discover traces of the Supreme Poet in his beloved Florence.

“Rejoice, O Florence, since thou art so great,
That over sea and land thou beatest thy wings,
And throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad!”

So begins the XXVI canto of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, verses that certainly avoid presenting Florence in a light-hearted manner. Yet the phrases recall the poet’s immense love for his city, one marked by strong resentment towards those that forced him into exile.
If you’re curious to see Dante’s Florence and want to discover his everlasting presence in this city, then follow Dante’s tracks in an exciting and unique tour around the city. 
 

Dante’s statue in Santa Croce

On the left-hand side of the Santa Croce church façade, standing at the top of the steps, you’ll find a statue of the Supreme Poet (made by Enrico Pazzi in 1865). The statue reigns over the piazza with an unyielding gaze; his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, firmly rests in his hands. 
Dante’s exclusion from the “Temple of the Italian Glories,” as Santa Croce is called, may seem insulting considering his role as one of Florence’s most important literary figures (Santa Croce features the tombs of some of the most illustrious figures in Italian history and culture). And yet Dante’s love-hate relationship with Florence renders their bond all the more romantic to outside observers. 


Dante’s Neighborhood


Heading to the city center from the Santa Croce neighborhood, you’ll stumble upon the so-called “Dante district.”
This area is a crisscross of narrow streets located between piazza della Signoria, the Church of Orsanmichele and the Badia Fiorentina. This area is the true medieval heart of the city, where you’ll find stone towers that once housed medieval noble families, such as the Cerchi and Donati (the birth family of Dante’s wife, Gemma).  
Here, you’ll also find the Church of Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi, where Dante’s marriage took place. This structure houses many of the Donati and Portinari family tombs (the family of Dante’s Beatrice). Also in the area, don’t miss the chance to visit Dante’s famous “home.”


Dante’s House Museum

Dante’s house was recreated in the first decade of the 20th century in the location of the old Alighieri residence. This area features a group of buildings flanking the Tower of the Castagna (the only round-base tower in Florence) where local legends say Dante was born (1265). 
Today the house is a didactic historic museum vaunting a number of themed spaces. The areas focus on the Supreme Poet’s private life, his political activity and his exile, offering an interesting and educational experience.
Besides Dante’s life, the museum also recounts Florentine history during this time. The Dante House Museum is part of the Firenzecard circuit


Portraits of Dante

There are three main areas where you’ll find portraits of the great poet (though Florence vaunts many more). The first is among the beautiful frescoes in the Spanish Chapel (located in the
Santa Maria Novella Museum), in which the poet is depicted among other figures of his time.

The second portrait is found in the Bargello Museum in the Cappella del Podestà, where you’ll find a fragment of an extraordinary fresco cycle portraying Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene and the Last Judgment (frescoed by Giotto’s school). 

The third portrait is surely the most famous and iconic of the three, located inside the Florence Cathedral. Here, you’ll find a fresco by Domenico di Michelino depicting Dante with his Divine Comedy and surrounded by scenes from the text; Dante is featured mid-explanation, immersed in the settings of his literary masterpiece. 


Divine Comedy tablets

Meandering through the city’s streets, you’ll come across a number of tablets citing verses from the Divine Comedy. The city boasts thirty-four in total, most of which commemorate noble Florentine families. The locations of the tablets are directly linked to the city’s historic figures or “memories.” This setting forms a poetic path for visitors, one that emerges from the city’s stone palaces and walls. 


An oddity in Florence… Dante’s “Stone”

From piazza del Duomo, following the southern side of the Cathedral, you’ll come across a small open area called piazza delle Pallottole. Here, you’ll find a large boulder: this stone is said to be where Dante once sat to observe the Cathedral’s construction (taking place during his lifetime).This is surely the best way to imagine the Supreme Poet: his proud and reflective gaze quietly pondering the building, picturing the cathedral’s completed structure. 


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