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Municipality of Ravenna

Quadrarco of Braccioforte

Via Guido Da Polenta - Ravenna
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Destination of thousands of tourists visiting Dante’s Tomb every year, the so-called QUADRARCO OF BRACCIOFORTE is a little corner of tranquillity in the very heart of Ravenna.

The Quadrarco of Braccioforte is located in the so-called Zone of Silence, inextricably linked to the memory of the Supreme Poet.

In the 10th century, historian from Ravenna Andrea Agnello wrote in his chronicles that here, in the past, was a little oratory, connected through a portico to the nearby Basilica of San Francesco, which is no longer there today.

Legend has it that the name “Braccioforte” is connected with the story of two worshippers, who were willing to do anything in order to be listened by the Lord.

Right in the place of the monument, the two men had sworn an oath invoking the “strong arm” of Christ, in Italian “braccio forte”, in front of the Christ’s image that was preserved here.

Dante and the Quadrarco

The spoils of the Supreme Poet were buried where today is a little courtyard between Dante’s Tomb and the Basilica of San Francesco. They were buried there in order to keep them safe from the bombings of World War II.

A little mound of earth covered with ivy, right at the centre, takes us back to those memories. Here is a gravestone that says “Under this mound the bones of Dante found safe rest from 23 March 1944 to 19 December 1945”.

In truth, Dante’s spoils had never been in danger nor threatened by bombings. Nonetheless, in the name of an extreme safeguard, the fascist party official Alessandro Pavolini had made an agreement to move the poet’s remains in Valtellina (a valley in the Lombardy region) in case of danger.

The relationship between the Quadrarco and Dante resides also in other elements of the area – first of all an old wall that today has been restored, but used to border with the old Franciscan Cloisters. Between the 16th and the 19th century, the spoils of the Poet were hidden by the friars more than once, in order to keep them safe from any pretenders – especially Florence.

Then, there is the imposing centuries-old oak, wanted by Giosuè Carducci to commemorate the Supreme Poet at the beginning of the 20th century. With its arms, the oak embraces and protects the entire area. Lastly, there is the so-called “bell of Dante” on the top of a staircase, just behind the tomb.

Quadrarco Garden

Inside the Quadrarco’s courtyard, a series of marble sarcophagi are preserved. Among them, two dating back between the 5th and the 6th century A.D. stand out; they were used some time later by members of two noble Ravenna families, Pignata and Traversari.

Since 1921 the Quadrarco is enclosed by a wrought iron fence, created by Umberto Bellotto from Venice.

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The bell ringing every evening for Dante Alighieri

There is an extremely symbolic element that characterises this corner of the city — it is the bell donated by the Italian municipalities on the occasion of the 1921 centenary.

Housed inside a small tower behind the tomb, the bell strikes thirteen times every evening at dusk, in memory of the day of Dante’s death, September 13th.

The so-called “bell of Dante” — or in the official name the “bell of the Municipalities of Italy” — was designed by Guido Biagi, modelled by Duilio Cambellotti, and cast in the Pontificie Fonderie Lucenti in Rome.

It was inaugurated on September 14th 1921 and to this day still stands over the funeral monument that houses the poet’s remains.

Besides reminding us of Dante’s death, the bell’s 13 chimes are a reminder of his condition of exile and, in particular, of the feeling of nostalgia that grips the traveller far from home and his loved ones.

It is the same melancholy described by Dante in the famous tercets, set in the little valley of the negligent princes, in the eighth canto of Purgatory, which are also engraved on the bell.

It was the hour that turns seafarers’ longings homeward / the hour that makes their hearts grow tender / upon the day they bid sweet friends farewell / the hour that pierces the new traveler / with love when he has heard, far off, the bell / that seems to mourn the dying of the day
(Purgatory, Canto VIII, 1-6).

Further information

Opening times

Every day: 10 am – 6 pm

Entrance fee

Free entry.

Accessibility

The Quadrarco is accessible also for people with physical disabilities.

How to get there

The Quadrarco lies in the heart of Ravenna, in a pedestrian area limited to the traffic, inside the so-called Zone of Silence (Basilica of San Francesco, Old Franciscan Cloisters, Dante’s Tomb and Dante Museum).

On foot: the monument is easy to reach on foot from the nearby railway station

By bus: just 20 m. away from Piazza Caduti della Libertà is a bus stop serviced by every route.

By car: the city centre of Ravenna is a Limited Traffic Zone. To know the closest parking areas click HERE.

A cura della Redazione Locale
E-mail: turismo@comune.ravenna.it

Last edit:7 March 2022

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