Dante Alighieri’s Tomb
Tomb in Ravenna
In the heart of Ravenna, a peaceful and reverential corner is dedicated to the memory of Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language. This area, shaded by a majestic oak tree planted by Giosuè Carducci at the beginning of the 20th century, is home to Dante’s TOMB, where the Supreme Poet rests.
The tomb, affectionately nicknamed the “sugar bowl” by the people of Ravenna, was constructed between 1780 and 1781 based on the design by architect Camillo Morigia. It stands at the end of Via Dante Alighieri and is a central point of interest in the Zone of Silence, a place of serenity and reflection.
Above the entrance architrave is a marble plaque inscribed with “Dantis Poetae Sepulcrum,” making it easily recognizable.
The Mystery of Dante’s Remains: When Dante passed away in 1321, his tomb was initially a simple sarcophagus located just outside the Church of San Francesco. It was Guido Novello da Polenta, the lord of Ravenna, who requested the construction of the chapel to honor Dante one last time.
In 1483, during the rule of Bernardo Bembo, who governed Ravenna on behalf of the Republic of Venice, the sarcophagus was restored. Sculptor Pietro Lombardo was commissioned to create a marble bas-relief portraying Dante’s face, which is now visible inside the tomb.
The remains of the Supreme Poet became a subject of contention between Ravenna and Florence for centuries. Dante’s remains were missing for over two hundred years, hidden by Franciscan friars to prevent Florence from claiming them. They were eventually discovered, and a new mausoleum was constructed between 1780 and 1782, where Dante’s remains were placed in their original urn. However, in 1810, during Napoleon’s rule, the friars were forced to leave, and they once again hid the chest containing the remains.
In 1865, during maintenance work at a nearby monastery, a bricklayer discovered a wooden chest in a wall of the Quadrarco di Braccioforte. The chest bore an inscription stating, “Dantis ossa a me Fra Antonio Sancti hic posita anno 1677 die 18 octobris,” which translates to “These bones of Dante placed by me on the date of 18 October 1677.” The remains were reassembled and displayed in a crystal urn for a brief period before being entombed in the current temple.
Since then, Dante’s remains have not been moved, except for temporary transfers during World War II to protect them from destruction. This adventurous history has shrouded Dante’s remains in mystery for centuries but has finally come to an end.
Dante’s Tomb: The interior of the tomb, covered with marble during the 1921 centenary, houses the sepulcher containing Dante’s remains and the bas-relief by sculptor Pietro Lombardo.
An epitaph in Latin, written by poet Bernardo Canaccio in 1327, is engraved on top of the sepulcher, offering a poignant tribute to Dante:
“Iura monarchie superos Phlaegetonta lacusque lustrando cecini fata volverunt quousque sed quia pars cessit melioribus hospita castris actoremque suum petiit felicior astris hic claudor Dantes patriis extorris ab oris quem genuit parvi Florentia mater amoris”
At the base of the sarcophagus lies a bronze and silver wreath donated by the victorious army of World War I. On the right side is an ampoule created by sculptor Giovanni Mayer of Trieste and donated by Istrian-Dalmatian cities in 1908.
In the center of the small room, a votive lamp burns with oil donated by Tuscany. Every year, on the second Sunday of September, the Municipality of Florence sends a delegation to Ravenna to offer the oil in commemoration of its esteemed fellow citizen, Dante Alighieri.
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Visiting Dante Alighieri’s Tomb
From 1st November to 31st March
Every day: 10 am – 6 pm
From 1st April to 31st October
Every day: 10 am – 7 pm
1st January: 1 pm – 6 pm