Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 A.D. He is widely accepted as the first author who wrote in the everyday vernacular that soon evolved into modern Italian, as well as the creation of Italy's most enduring literary work. The Divine Comedy, a poem comprised of three separate volumes, details a journey in the afterlife through L'inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise), and is as much a historical chronicle as it is a literary achievement. Written entirely after Dante's 1301 exile from the city of Florence, The Divine Comedy is a window into nearly every aspect of medieval history, theology, politics, art and culture; in particular as it relates to Florence.
During the course of this three-hour walk, we will follow Dante's path through the city, exploring the places and characters that inspired his masterpiece. Thus, this seminar is designed to explore both the life of Dante Alighieri as a historical figure and The Divine Comedy as a work of fiction where Florence as a city plays a central role. We usually begin at the Baptistery, where Dante himself was baptized and where he later took inspiration for writing his L'inferno from the Biblical mosaics depicting the Last Judgment. We will move from here to Dante's neighborhood, deep in the heart of medieval Florence, where we will find Dante's home and his local church where he was to encounter Beatrice, his beloved muse and spiritual guide for whom he wrote The Divine Comedy.
Along the way, we will see where Dante's enemies lived and we will explore the innumerable locations tucked away; corners, side streets and piazzas where many of Dante's characters came to life. We will also visit Palazzo della Lana, important during Dante's time, as the location of the Wool Guild, but what today serves as The Dante Society meeting place and the Dante Library where scholars from all over the world come to continue to study his over 700 year-old poem.
Our docent for this walk will be a scholar of Italian literature and will be able to craft a dialogue in which we can explore the recurring themes which are reflected in the work of Dante and how these themes have remained in the Florentine psyche.