Durante Alighieri, well known as Dante, was born in Florence on an undefined day between May and June of 1265. He was the son of Alighiero da Bellincione a gentry man of Florence it seemed to make the usurer for business, his mother was Bella degli Abati from the hamlet Montegemoli of Volterra, she died young and left Dante in his boyhood.
We know little about the life of The Poet, mainly thanks to men who knew him, in fact Dante never told us very much about himself.
Dante studied rhetoric, philosophy and French culture. He met and attended movements of vernacular poetry.
During 1277 Gemma Donati was betrothed to Dante, and she became his wife some years later. They had already three children before Dante had been exiled from Florence: Pietro, Jacopo and Antonia.
In the meanwhile at Florence the political struggle has been raging between the Guelph: on one side there were the Black Guelphs, the traditional nobles of the town connected with the Pope Bonifacio VIII, on the other side the White Guelphs, the enriched tradesmen, considered the lesser nobility, it was the side of Dante.
The White lost their power in 1302 and most of them were exiled and condemned. This was the moment when Dante, completely adverse to the politics of pope Bonifacio VIII, had been condemned for practicing barratry and expelled from Tuscany for his whole life.
From now on Dante starts being stateless and wandering “per l’altrui scale” (walking down the service steps). He got in and out of the home of others, without being free to decide for himself, until death. He went to Forlì, Bologna, the Casentino land, Verona and at the end he arrived in Ravenna during 1318, called by Guido Da Polenta, lord of the city.
Once in Ravenna Dante had the possibility to practice the profession of man of letters, in fact he conducted a circle of rhymester poets in vernacular language. He became ambassador for the Da Polenta family.
Guido Da Polenta gave him time to accomplish the Divina Commedia, in particular the third canto: The Paradise. Here in Ravenna they said he took cues from byzantine churches and from symbolic places as the pinewood of Classe, for descriptions and landscapes described in the Purgatory and Paradise.
Once the poet arrived in Ravenna his sons Pietro and Jacopo, and his daughter Antonia followed him. They bought an house not far from the basilica of San Vitale, Antonia after his father’s death became a nun in the monastery of Santo Stefano degli Ulivi.
During the 1321 Dante was called by his friend Giovanni del Virgilio at Bologna to receive the laurel wreath for poetry. Dante declined his friend’s proposal because he was concerned that Fulcieri de Calboli, the new mayor of Bologna born in Florence, would persecute himself.
Guido Da Polenta asked Dante to go in Venice as a Ravenna ambassador, to resolve dispute. The journey was life-threatening for the poet, in fact traveling throughout the Delta Po swamps he contracted the malaria.
He died in Ravenna during the night between the 13th and 14th September 1321. His solemn funeral was made at the basilica of San Francesco, where he was entombed at first sight, after which they realized an area dedicated to Dante, called Dante’s area. At the end of the 18th century the architect Camillo Morigia designed the modern tomb of Dante, as a Neoclassical temple.
Even nowadays The Great Poet Dante rest in peace inside this monumental tomb.