Pack your bags for a tour of places where Italy’s Great Poet lived and are associated with his life.
9 Dec 2020
Born in Florence in 1265, Dante Alighieri was one of Italy’s greatest poets. The streets of Florence contain many places that tell of his passing. In his day, the city was a tangle of narrow streets and stone and wooden houses, interspersed with towers, small churches and shops. Many of these places have survived, notably the backdrop to his feelings for Beatrice, love of his life and inspirational muse, as declaimed in his works, especially “Vita Nova” and his magnum opus, “The Divine Comedy”.
Ready? Let’s go walk through Florence in Dante’s footsteps.
The Dante House Museum - Via Santa Margherita 1
The best place to start our tour is the Poet’s childhood home museum. The Museo Casa di Dante is in the heart of medieval Florence, in one of city’s most evocative buildings. After falling into disrepair, in the 1900s the original building was rebuilt exactly where the Alighieri’s home once stood. This is where Dante was born in 1265. According to popular memory, a group of houses near the Torre della Castagna has always been referred to as the “Dante houses”. The Casa di Dante Museum was set up to raise awareness about Dante’s life and works.
Church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi - Via Santa Margherita.
The Church of Santa Margherita is on a small side-street just past the Dante House, towards Via del Corso. “Dante’s church”, as it is known, was frequented by the poet and his family. It was here that the poet married Gemma Donati, but in actually fact Beatrice was the real star of this place: this was the church where Dante encountered his muse, and where Beatrice married Simone de’ Bardi.
Beatrice’s House - Palazzo Portinari Salviati, Via del Corso 6.
Riesci a immaginare come potesse sentirsi Dante, ansioso e in trepida attesa di veder spuntare la sua Beatrice mentre girava l’angolo con la Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi? Puoi provare a immedesimarti in lui e rivivere quei momenti passeggiando per via del Corso 6. Troverai il Palazzo Portinari Salviati che - recentemente venduto per sottoporlo a ristrutturazione e ricavarne appartamenti di lusso - appartenne proprio a Folco Portinari, il padre di Beatrice. Anche se è conosciuta come la Casa di Beatrice, fu in realtà la casa della sua famiglia, dove trascorse solo la sua infanzia.
Dante’s Rock - Piazza delle Pallottole.
In a building just to the right of the Duomo apse is a large marble commemorative plaque on which the following words are engraved: “Sasso di Dante”. Legend has it that Dante used to stop and sit on this stone, which back then was in a green space. There he would rest, think, and see how construction of the Cathedral was going, absorbed in his thoughts. The Rock is also associated with a Dante anecdote. One day, when the Poet was sitting on his usual rock, an acquaintance passed by and asked him: “Oh Dante, what would you most like to eat?” “Eggs,” came the Poet’s reply. The following year, the same person returned. Seeing Dante sitting on that same rock, he asked him “What news?”, to which Dante readily replies: “Some salt would be nice!”
Statue of Dante - Piazza Santa Croce
We end our tour with a stroll to Piazza Santa Croce. Here, we may admire the famous Statue of Dante, made in white Carrara marble by sculptor Enrico Pazzi in 1865, six hundred years after Dante’s birth (1265-1321). That work was restored in 2011, to mark the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification. Originally, the statue of Dante Alighieri was in the centre of Piazza Santa Croce.
Where to stay in Florence.
A romantic, evocative and exciting tour deserves an equally special place to stay. UNAHOTELS Vittoria Firenze is a Gruppo UNA hotel designed by famous architect Fabio Novembre that is renowned for its refined and appealing design. Its location is ideal for enjoying the city and its surroundings.
But there’s more. If you’d like to experience Florence at its most authentic, come and be part of its evolving history. Living tradition and craftsmanship await you as art at the Leone Blu Suites | UNA Esperienze, an exclusive collection of unique suites that harmoniously combines the antique (decorated wooden ceilings and furnishings from Brolio Castle) at Palazzo Ricasoli, a fifteenth-century period residence. The suites offer a timeless example of Italian art, enriched by the work of Florence’s finest bronzesmiths, blacksmiths and stonemasons.