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Art & Culture

Emilia-Romagna

A day in Ravenna, on the trail of contemporary Dante

06 October 2022

Romantics admire his platonic love for Beatrice, literary fans study every inch of the Divine Comedy to revel in the talent of the true father of Italian literature. Even in the absence of photos, his angular profile is more renowned than the images of top Instagram influencers. The world continues to celebrate Dante Alighieri, in modern and sometimes bizarre ways: will you join us in discovering how Ravenna pays tribute to the great poet, who died in this very city?

1. If Dante were alive today

No academic style lessons here, this tour takes you past street art, giant statues and illustrations, starting with the most obvious question: what would Dante do if he was in Ravenna today? Seeing as the answer doesn’t actually exist, we enter a world of imagination, having fun discovering the ways the city celebrates the immortal artist. 

2. Building facades like billboards

It's hard not to notice the first one: In the very centre by Via Pasolini a gigantic face of Dante entranced in thought looks down on you from the external wall of a school building. Painted in 2017 by the Brazilian artist Kobra, and is not the only mural of its kind. Just try to count how many building fronts feature paintings of the poet from Darsena to the Rocca Brancaleone. 

3. More street art: Scuba Dante

Still street art, but perhaps a little cheeky, Blub is an Italian artist who depicts famous personalities under water, in scuba gear. He has painted Marylin Monroe, Van Gogh and even Santa Claus: could Dante Alighieri be missing? You’ll find him on Via Diaz, at the start of the pedestrian zone coming from the station: Smiling, dressed in red with bay leaves and, surprise, an black scuba mask. 

4. In search of the myth

Strolling onwards, at the end of the street that is aptly named Dante Alighieri, you’ll find his recently restored tomb. Here you’ll find peace and tranquility within the ancient streets, squares and arcades. Nearby is the Dantesco Mausoleum with the Quadrarco di Braccioforte ancient oratory, and the San Francesco Basilica where his funeral was held. 

5. Paintings of Dante, but also comic illustrations too

Every year in September, in the cloisters of the Alfred Oriani Library, Dante Plus is held. A collection of works of art that arrive from all over the world inspired by the poet. Paintings, sculptures, illustrations and even comic illustration works too. 

6. From guided tours and multimedia experiences

Love for Dante spreads even to the mosaics museum TAMO - Tutta l’Avventura del Mosaico. They offer various guided tours and multimedia workshops. In the cloisters of what was once the San Nicolò church, there is a section of Mosaics Between Hell and Paradise displaying a collection of 21 Dante themed works. These were commissioned to various great Italian artists of the 1900s, and in part by created by mosaic artists schooled in Ravenna. 

7. The headphones genius

Put on your headphones but be assured: it’s not time to dance, listen up as Dante Alighieri tells you his story. Discover how he came to be in Ravenna, what his other passions were and how the city was at the time. Just listen to Silent Play by Dante for an immersive guided tour of the streets, squares, historic buildings, museums, and hidden gems of the city (for more information: www.ravennaexperience.it).