Official Tourist Information Site
of Ravenna

Follow the ways of

Dante Alighieri

All the places in Ravenna linked to the Supreme Poet’s memory

We cannot be one hundred percent sure, but it’s very likely that during his last stay in Ravenna, Dante Alighieri visited the wonderful churches and basilicas of the city, today Unesco World Heritage, and that he admired the priceless treasures preserved inside.

Dante had already been in Ravenna before, presumably in 1303 and in 1310. He also wandered in the pine forest of Classe — «along the shore of Classe, through the pines» (Purgatorio, Canto XXVIII), which he describes as «forest-dense, alive with green, divine».

This is why Guido da Polenta, the lord of the city, did not trouble much to convince the Supreme Poet to come again to the ancient Byzantine capital in 1318, making it his last oasis of peace and tranquillity after his long wanders far from Florence.

Here, Dante Alighieri had the opportunity to be together again with his family, and to end his cherished Divine Comedy.

Of course, the chance to have a source of income, thanks to the representation assignments conferred on him by Guido Novello as his ambassador in Venice to doge Giovanni Soranzo helped to convince him.

Ravenna in Dante’s days must have looked quite differently than the one we know today. The past splendours of the Roman and Byzantine empire were almost a distant memory, and its landscape – poor, unhealthy and surrounded by swamps and canals – must not have been that welcoming.

In this woeful landscape, the mosaics of the ancient Byzantine churches were a source of light and wonder, witnessing the period of grandeur with their precious and highly artistic treasures.

“On that shore where the river Po
with all its tributaries slows
to peaceful flow, there I was born.”

(Divine Commedy, Inferno V v. 97)

Palaces, monasteries, streets, basilicas and the entire area around the city were, without a shadow of a doubt, the visual and cultural horizon that most influenced his visual and literary imagery.

Even today, Dante’s traces and verses echo in many places of Ravenna. They suggest an itinerary of memories and insights that citizens and tourists alike can try to glimpse, to the discovery of the traces left by the Father of the Italian Language.