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The Poet's Tomb

Overview

When he left the world of the living on the night of 13-14 September 1321, Dante was a guest of Guido Novello da Polenta, then mayor of Ravenna: his remains were laid to rest in the Basilica of San Francesco. In 1483, the humanist Bernardo Bembo, who ruled Ravenna on behalf of Venice, thought of creating a more dignified burial site, and commissioned the bas-relief with Dante's portrait that now stands above the sarcophagus. What the rest of that new tomb looked like, however, is not known for certain.

Florence, regretting its treatment of Dante when he was alive, repeatedly did everything in its power to appropriate the burial, but to no avail. As the years passed, it seemed as if no one knew where the poet's remains had ended up. It was not until 1865, when his bones were fortunately found, that they could finally be laid to rest in the current tomb, which had remained empty.

Until a few decades ago, even the best tourist guides found the arrangement given to the area around the tomb in the 1930s 'curious', joking politely about its 'neo-medieval style'. The bronze and silver garland at the foot of the sarcophagus was donated by the Italian army after the First World War. The ampulla on the right is an offering from 1908 by the Julian-Dalmatian towns. The votive lamp that hangs in the centre burns oil from the Tuscan hills, offered every second Sunday in September by the City of Florence.

The Poet's Tomb
Via Dante Alighieri, 48121 Ravenna RA, Italy

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