You can’t talk about Italian literature without mentioning Dante Alighieri who peacefully rests in Ravenna. I’d say that his Divine Comedy (Divina Comedia) is, perhaps, the greatest Italian literary work the world has ever known. It’s a classic that must be read whether you’re a believer of hell, purgatory and paradise or not.
Is Dante’s Tomb in Florence Real?
If you were told by one of your guides or a local in Florence that Dante is buried in their city – ignore it. There’s no truth in that. That “tomb” you see in Florence is nothing but air inside. Empty – that is. It’s nothing but a memorial to Dante who was born in Florence.
But what’s this myth about Dante’s tomb lies in Florence? Well, in 1519, Pope Leo X directed that Dante’s bones be moved to Florence but the Franciscan monks at the nearby monastery stole them away and hid them for more than 300 years. It was re-discovered in 1865 – by chance!
Visiting the Tomb of Dante Alighieri in Ravenna
This is the tomb of Dante.
Above the door, you’ll find the coat of arms of the cardinal who ordered to have this tomb built.
Inside is a stone coffin where the bones of the great poet lie. The epitaph, written in Latin, was inscribed in 1327 by another Italian poet, Bernardo Canaccio. Above the sarcophagus is the bas relief sculpted by Pietro Lombardo in 1483. At the base of the tomb, there’s a silver and bronze garland that was placed in 1921 to remember the 600 years of Dante’s death.
The lamp hanging above the tomb is ablazed with olive oil from the Tuscan hills which is offered every September by the local government.
Right next to Dante’s tomb is a gated lush green garden.
In this garden, you’ll find a huge mound covered with vines that Dante’s bones were kept safe during World war II.
In the evening, the bell of the tower of the nearby church rings 13 times! It is to honour the opening prosody of canto 8 of Purgatory which states:
It was by now, the hour that turns to home
The longing thoughts of seamen, melting hearts
The day they’ve said goodbye to dearest friends
And when by love the pilgrim, new to this
Is pierced to hear, far off, the evening bell
That seems to mourn the dying of the day
Behind Dante’s tomb, you’ll find Basilica di San Francesco where the Italian poet’s funeral was held here in 1321. On the opposite side of the basilica, you’ll find the former home of Lord Byron (an English poet) on your right.
How to get to Ravenna
It’s a day trip east of Bologna. Take a train in the morning and you’ll be there in an hour and a half later. Once you arrived at Ravenna Train Station, turn on your Google maps and start walking. It’s quite a walk to get to Dante’s tomb. It would take you around 20-30 minutes. For one day itinerary, read it here.
Where to Stay in Bologna
Just in case you decide to stay in Bologna for a night and leave very early the next day, stay at Stazione Centrale. When you arrive, do not exit at the front / main gate. Go to the back exit / entrance and from there, it’s just 20 meters away.
Not a Solo Traveler? Join a tour!
Well, you know, solo travel is not for everyone. Should you decide to go on with a tour group, go with – . They have a wide variety of tours for all ages and different kinds of travelers, including solo, seniors, teenagers and family.