For Dante on this website, see http://www.florin.ms/Dantevivo.html
for the hypertexted Commedia with
readings, images and music as well as the
text, and also La
Musica della Commedia on Youtube. In
the following hypertext links are to the
to Americo Parrini, in C. Danyell Tassinari's
translation, With Dante in Florence, and
keep scrolling as there are further pages
of text with much information beyond the
initial ones (Florence; Giannini,
1930/IX), to the oral readings by Carlo
, to the poem, INF
I am in the photos as we needed to measure
the height of the plaques by comparison
for getting an estimate for their
Click on red arrow below for soundtrack
Imagine, or in reality, you arrive in Florence by way of
Santa Maria Novella's modern station, opened in 1935,
designed by the 'architect of hospitality', Giovanni
Michelucci in Fascist style. In front of you you see the
back side of 1. Santa Maria Novella, the great
church begun in 1276 by the Order of Preachers where
Dante would have gone to hear lectures by the Dominican
Friars expounding Aquinas' theology, one of whom would
write a commentary on the Commedia until
forbidden to do so by the Chapter in 1335 held in the
Spanish Chapel when he had to stop at Paradiso XII. What
follows will hypertext to Dante's Commedia,
the marble plaques Florence's Comune decided on 1900 to
place on buildings Dante mentioned, and the publications
concerning them, Victorian photographs and engravings,
and discussions in Augustus
Hare's Florence,Susan and Joanna Horner's Walks
in Florence. This app has many layers, the
real historical one of stone buildings and flesh and
blood people of 1265-1302, then of Dante's writings, his
Vita nova and his Commedia,
themselves layered hypertexts, written on parchment, now
printed on paper, or electronically
on the Web, doing just this, layering his flesh
and blood reality with his virtualized vision. Florence is
not only the modern city in which to live and move and
have our being in this present moment of time, but also
has layers that we can peel back in its 'theatre of
memory', in this case to Dante's era, before the
Renaissance, before the Medici, from his birth in 1265
to his exile in 1302. This is the cityscape of his Vita
nova and will be what he remembers of his
neighbourhood in his dream vision in exile in the Commedia.
Next you could take the Via Cerretani leading to the
Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore (only its foundations
begun by Arnolfo di Cambio before Dante's exile,
previously it was Santa Reparata).
Throughout this app you can click
on the photographs of the plaques to enlarge
them, as here:
1C, Parrini V, Tassinari
V. In Via Cerretani, on the
church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Oral reading 1
Click to enlarge plaques
. . . IN LA MENTE M'E FITTA, E OR
LA CARA E BVONA IMAGINE PATERNA
DI VOI, QVANDO NEL MONDO AD ORA AD ORA
M'INSEGNAVATE COME L'VOM S'ETERNA!
. . . in my mind is fixed, and touches now
My heart the dear and good paternal image
Of you when in the world from hour to hour
You taught me how a man becomes
reaching the San Giovanni Piazza on your
right you see the plain Cistercian church of
Santa Maria Maggiore, inside of which at the
left hand side's chapel is a column marking
Brunetto Latino's tomb. That tomb was
originally in the Piazza San Giovanni, in the
part for members of the 6/30. Compagnia dei Laudesi di
Orsanmichele, and moved here in 1751 by
Giuseppe Maria Mazzei according to the
inscription above it.
Leonardo Bruni tells
us that Brunetto
Latino was appointed as orphaned adolescent Dante
Alighieri's legal guardian by his stepmother, Lapa, at
his father Aldighiere's death. His mother, Bella degli
Abati, had already died when he was about five years
old. Brunetto would have educated him by having him read
and copy out documents of state, now kept in the
Archivio di State in Piazza Beccaria, and also his
literary works, his Opere,
(Biblioteca Riccardiana 2908, perhaps written by Dante
when he was still a boy, its Mare amoroso
perhaps also his), to begin with, then his Rettorica
and Tesoro, (Biblioteca
Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 42.20, perhaps written by
Dante when he was more mature), the manuscripts written
by Brunetto's students now in the Vatican Library, the
Biblioteca Laurenziana, the Biblioteca Riccardiana and
the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.
Then Francesco da Barberino copied the text of Brunetto Latino's Tesoro in
the 1330sin this Laurentian Library manuscript (Plut. 42.19,
fol.72r), and it showed Brunetto Latino as teaching
Guido Cavalcanti, Dante Alighieri, and Francesco da Barberino,
following the Sicilian Vespers, where Francesco turns admiringly
to gaze on Dante, all the students holding the copies they are
making of the Tesoro that Brunetto is teaching them.
Brunetto had gone on embassy to the court of King Alfonso X el
Sabio in Spain in 1260 to get help for Florence and had there
acquired texts of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and
Alfraganus' Astronomy, while observing this Arabic
method of teaching and multiple book production. 'Ser' and
'Maestro' Brunetto taught students the texts of Cicero,
Aristotle, Lucan, Alfraganus, Sallust, embedded in his Tesoro
which he first wrote in first French, in 1260, during his exile
after Montaperti, then translated into Italian in the 1280s-90s,
training his readers and hearers in 'Buon Governo', Good
Government, with integrity. Brunetto defined government as the
love of God and neighbour, that the 'podestà', who was elected
from a different city, and who was quartered with his judges,
notaries, soldiers and servants, in the 20. Bargello, was sworn to uphold
justice, to execute the City's statutes, to protect widows and
orphans, merchants and pilgrims, to repair roads and bridges, to
defend the citizens in war and peace, for their common
PIAZZA SAN GIOVANNI
Now we come to the beautiful square of San
Giovanni with its 2. Cross of San Zenobio, 3.Baptistery, 4.Cathedral (then Santa Reparata), 5.
Giotto Tower, not built before Dante's exile, 6.Compagnia dei Laudesi of
Orsanmichele's Cemetery (no longer
visible apart from the Annunciation sculpture), 7. Misericordia,
and the Opera del Duomo Museum.
Florentines call their Cathedral, rebuilt in the Renaissance as
Santa Maria del Fiore, instead of dedicated to Santa Reparata,
the Duomo, and its great dome, the Cupolone.
This cluster of architectural monuments from Dante's Florence
and later show its ecclesiastical center, its aspect of the
Church, of the Christian religion, though the energy for their
creation derives more from the laity than from the clergy. Like
Italy's modern Constitution, Florence was based on work, the
various guilds involved in banking and textiles, coming together
as the Arte de' Giudici e Notai (judges and notaries of
which Brunetto was a member), Arte di Calimala (Mercatanti,
cloth merchants), Arte della Lana (wool), Arte di Cambio
(banking), Arte della Sete (silk), Arte dei Medici e Speziali
(doctors and spice merchants of which Dante became a member),
Arte dei Vaiai e Pelliciaiai (fur and leather), of which the
Arte della Lana was involved with the building of the Duomo, the Arte di Calimala with the Baptistery and San
Miniato and the Arte della Seta with the later Hospital of
the Innocents, their occupations shown in the sculptures on the
5. Giotto Tower, while all the Guilds collaborated and
competed to build and adorn 30.Orsanmichele.
2. Cross of San Zenobio. Saint Zenobius, in the legend,
was the Bishop of Florence, whose coffin, when it was brought
from the church dedicated to St Lawrence, San Lorenzo, founded
by Milan's Saint Ambrose, to Santa Reparata, touched a dead elm
tree in the piazza which came to life again, this cross raised
in its memory. Every year its base is adorned with red and white
roses. Another medieval cross, the Trebbio, can be found at the
meeting of three streets near Santa Maria Novella. Florence has
many such customs, rituals and monuments carried on from
medieval times through to the present.
ST JOHN'S BAPTISTERY
3. The Baptistery
Here, beside the Duomo of
Florence, is its ancient octagonal Baptistery, which Dante and
Villani both believed had been originally a Temple dedicated
to the pagan god of war, Mars. Here, on Holy Saturday, 27
March. 1266, Dante was baptized and would have seen the
beginnings of these mosaics.
What the baby Dante would have seen at his
Baptism that Easter Saturday, 3 April 1266, much of the
mosaic work already in place, though not yet the exterior
work in white and green marble. He notes, too, in Paradiso XV.133 that
his ancestor, his crusading great grandfather, was also
baptized there. The Holy Saturday liturgy included the Psalm 113, In Exitu Israel de
(here we hear the Ensemble San Felice sing the psalm, with its
unique tonus peregrinus, which Dante spoke of in the Convivio
and which he says in the Letter to Can Grande is the
entire allegory of the Commedia), where
Dante has the 100 pilgrims sing in unison in Purgatorio II after
Virgil baptizes him with water and girds or crowns him with a
rush, the Red Sea being called Ram Suf, the Sea of
Rushes. He dates the Commedia from Good Friday
through Easter Week, 1300/actually 1301, and has his baptism
reflected twice over in Purgatorio
I, when Cato has Virgil baptize him, and again in Purgatorio XXXI, whenMatelda drags him through the
waters. Dante, when adult, he tells us, once broke one of the
side fonts to rescue a drowning child, Inferno XIX.16, a piece of this
in the Museo Opera del Duomo.
British Library, MS Egerton 943, Purgatorio
I and Purgatorio XXXI
MAI CONTINGA CHE 'L POEMA SACRO
AL QVALE HA POSTO MANO E CIELO E TERRA
SI CHE M'HA FATTO PER PIV ANNI MACRO,
VINCA LA CRVDELTA' CHE FVOR MI SERRA
DEL BELLO OVILE, OV'IO DORMI' AGNELLO
NIMICO A' LVPI, CHE GLI DANNO GVERRA,
CON ALTRA VOCE OMAI, CON ALTRO VELLO
RITORNERO' POETA, ED IN SVL FONTE
DEL MIO BATTESMO PRENDERO' IL CAPELLO.
If e'er it happens that the Poem Sacred
To which both heaven and earth have set their hand,
So that it many a year hath made me lean,
O'ercome the cruelty that bars me out
From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered,
An enemy to the wolves that war upon it.
With other voice forthwith, with other fleece
Poet will I return, and at my font
Baptismal will I take the crown.
The stone by the Baptistery, humbly on the
ground, is now dirty and cracked, like the black one on
the Confession Gate in Purgatorio
IX. I have a restorer trained in our English
Cemetery in Florence in how to clean and restore marble
tombs and inscriptions, who could have done this work in
time for the Dante Anniversary. He has already made two
facsimiles of the Libro del Chiodo, one given to
the Museo Casa di Dante, the other to be given to the
Società Dante Alighieri, and has helped restore
Donatello's pulpit in Prato.
mosaics include Coppo di Marcovaldo's enormous figure of Satan
with three mouths devouring three sinners, which become the
figure of Satan devouring Judas, Brutus and Cassius in Inferno XXXIV. Dante began
his project of writing the Commedia with his dream of
imperial peace for Florentine factions to be wrought by the
Emperor Henry VI of Luxembourg, hopes dashed with Henry's death
of fever in 1313. But this had led him to the choice of imperial
Virgil as poet guide, rather than Brunetto's republican Cicero.
It also led him to assign Brutus and Cassius as traitors to
imperial Caesar, the contrary of Michelangelo's sculpture of
Brutus (to be seen in the 20. Bargello
Museum), considered a virtuous Republican assassin of the
tyranny of the princely Medici. "Put not your trust in princes!"
See also Augustus Hare's Florence, Susan and
Joanna Horner's Walks in Florence.
SANTA REPARATA/SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE 4. You now come to the Duomo, begun
by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296, the Misericordia workers laying
the first stone, and which was finished by Brunelleschi in 1436.
But in Dante's day it had been this church, Santa Reparata, with
the Baptistery beside it. See Hare's Florence.
On Maundy Thursday, the day on which Inferno
I opens as if on 1300/actually 1301, the liturgy
within Santa Reparata, and now in the Duomo, would have been the
procession with the great olive-branched cross and the bearers
of candles, taking the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose
under a golden canopy with four great candles, these born by
Misericordia workers whose feet have been washed by the Bishop
at Cena Domini Mass. If you are in Florence at Easter attend
this Mass, participating in its great procession around the huge
cathedral labyrinth. Dante will create of this the procession in
the Earthly Paradise in Purgatorio which Dante Pilgrim
believes first are olive trees but which turn out to be candles,
followed by Beatrice in her chariot, Purgatorio XXIX.
1322 Dante's fellow student, Francesco da Barberino,
commissioned Tino da Camaino to sculpt the tomb of the
Bishop Antonio D'Orso for
Florence's Cathedral, these documents, speaking of
"dominus Franciscus". It's on the wall your right as you
enter from the front. The tomb uses the motif much beloved
by Francesco da Barberino, of Death, elsewhere also of Love, as having two bows from which he
shoots arrows at us.
Tomb of Bishop Antonio D'Orso by Tino da Camaino, commissioned
by Francesco da Barberino
Death as archer with two bows
At the completion of
Brunelleschi's dome in 1436, Guillaume Dufay's motet, Nuper
Rosarum flores, was sung, evoking, as does the
Cathedral's dedication, Santa Maria del Fiore, Dante's Rose.
Inside the Duomo on its left wall is this later painting,
showing Florence as it became then, painted in 1465 by
Domenico di Michelino where Dante preaches to Florence as
her prophet, the three gates of Hell, of Purgatory and of
Florence, all like those built by Arnolfo da Cambio, while
Mount Purgatory is a composite of Fiesole's Monte Ceceri
with its galleries mined for pietra serena, a grey
porous sandstone (now hidden by the cypresses planted by
Victorian Englishmen) and of Mount Sinai,
similarly with terraces at which the monks of St Catherine's
Monastery heard pilgrims' confessions.
Confession gate on
SinaiSinai, David Roberts
Giotto Tower was built after Dante's exile from Florence. 6. The tomb of Brunetto
Latino, Dante's teacher, was originally among the tombs
that had littered the Piazza San Giovanni, as described by
Boccaccio concering Guido Cavalcante
in the Decameron VI.ix, and by George Eliot in
Romola, those of the members of the Compagnia dei laudesiof
Orsanmichele being grouped beneath
the sculpture of the Annunciation, formerly on the exterior
wall of Santa Reparata, now on the Duomo wall by the Giotto
Tower. Brunetto's Tesoretto and Tesoro are
used by Dante throughout the Commedia, and these
sculptures figure in Purgatorio X.
Giroldo da Como, Annunciation, for the tombs of the OrsanmicheleCompagnia
dei Laudesi that were in the Piazza San Giovanni.
di Cambio, Annunciation, formerly in Santa Maria Maggiore.
Florence's New Year began at the Feast of the Annunciation,
March 25, considered also the date of the Creation of the World
and the Crucifixion of Christ. Dante similarly dates his magnum
opus, the Commedia, as initiating at that date, 25
March 1300, which actually occured in 1301, as if on Good
Friday, conjoining Death and Conception. Beatrice had died in
1290, at the time of the loss of the Jerusalem Kingdom, the Fall
of Saint Jean d'Acre taking place in 1291, events which colour
the Vita nova with grief. Guido Cavalcanti was to die in August,
1300, in consequence of Dante's sentencing of both
Corso Donati, his enemy, and Guido Cavalcanti, his friend, to
exile because of their feuding. Dino Compagni in his Cronica,
I.20, describes the feuding, Guido going on pilgrimage to
Compostela, Corso seeking to assassinate him, Guido on returning
to Florence retaliating. The Vita nova and the Commedia
are as if poetic elegies to Beatrice and to Guido.
Boccaccio's Sixth Day, ninth story, of the Decameron,
describes Guido Cavalcanti, Dante's friend and fellow poet, ten
years his elder, as vaulting over the tombs by San Giovanni to
escape members of the Black Guelfs taunting him:
"Now one day, Guido had walked from 30. Orsanmichele
along the Corso degli 12. Adimari
[via Calzaiuoli] as far as 3. San
Giovanni, which was a favourite walk of his because it
took him past those great marble sarcophagi, now to be found in
Santa Reparata, and the numerous other graves that lie all
around San Giovanni. As he was threading his way among the
tombs, between the porphyry columns that stand in that spot and
the door of San Giovanni, which was locked, Messer Betto and his
friends came riding through the piazza of Santa
Reparata, and on seeing Guido among all the tombs they
said, "Let's go and torment him." And so, spurring their horses
and making a mock charge, they were upon him almost before he
had time to notice, and they began to taunt him, saying: "Guido,
you spurn our company: but supposing you find that God doesn't
exist, what good will it do you?" Finding himself surrounded,
Guido promptly replied: "Gentlemen, in your own house you may
say whatever you like to me". Then placing a hand on one of the
tombstones, which were very tall, he vaulted over the top of it,
being very light and nimble, and landed on the other side,
whence, having escaped from their clutches, he proceeded on his
George Eliot in her historical novel Romola,
set in the time of Savonarola, similarly described the tombs
that once littered the Piazza San Giovanni. Giovanni Villani had
told of the two porphyry columns Pisa gave Florence but which
they burnt first so they could no longer foretell the future.
Bigallo/Misericordia. The Bigallo Museum was originally part of the
Misericordia, and its fresco of the Madonna della Misericordia,
later than Dante's time, presents the city of Florence and her
citizens sheltered under the Madonna's cloak, which in turn is
embroidered with the Seven Acts of
Mercy. The Libro del Biadaiolo, written for 30. Orsanmichele, now Laurentian
Library, Tempe 3, and the Polyptich of Saint Umiltà in the
Uffizi also show medieval Florence in Dante's time, while the
Domenico di Michelino is painted later when the Duomo of Santa
Maria del Fiore was built. See Hare, Florence, Horner,
Walks in Florence.
Bigallo, Madonna della Misericordia
Pietro Lorenzetti, St Umiltà, Uffizi Arnolfian
architecture of Florence is also Commedia's
The Madonna of Mercy, the Bigallo, formerly the MISERICORDIA, with the Seven Acts of Mercy, 1. Feed the
Hungry, 2. Give drink to the Thirsty, 3. Clothe the Naked, 4.
Shelter the Stranger, 5. Visit the Sick 6. Visit the Prisoner,
7. Bury the Dead. In this tour you will see the First Act of
Mercy, to Feed the Hungry, with 30. Orsanmichele, the granary to feed even the
enemy in time of famine; the Fifth Act of
Mercy to Care for the Sick, including
pilgrims, with Santa
Maria Nuova Hospital and the Oblate nursing order,
founded by Folco Portinari,
Beatrice's father, and Monna Tessa, her nurse;
the Sixth Act of Mercy, to visit the prisoner, with the later
Buonuomini di San Martino, visiting and ransoming the
prisoners in the Stinche; and the Seventh Act of Mercy (not in
Matthew's Gospel), to Bury the Dead, with the Misericordia
caring for the sick, the dying, the dead. These Seven Acts of Mercy will also be frescoed in the
little San Martino dei Buonuomini
church next to Dante's house by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
7b. The Misericordia built for themselves a different
building to the left of the Bigallo, the other side of the Via
Calzaiuoli. See Hare, Florence.
Map 1D. In
Piazza del Duomo, 20. MISERICORDIA,
placed later than the others, in 1954, Oral reading 32
VERGINE MADRE, FIGLIA DEL TUO FIGLIO
UMILE E ALTA PIU CHE CREATURA
TERMINE FISSO D'ETERNO CONSIGLIO
TU SE' COLEI CHE L'UMANA NATURA
NOBILITASTI SÌ, CHE IL SUO FATTORE
NON DISDEGNÒ DI FARSI SUA FATTURA.
NEL VENTRE TUO SI RACCESE L'AMORE
PER LO CUI CALDO NELL'ETERNA PACE
COSÌ È GERMINATO QUESTO FIORE
The Misericordia members for over 700 years
carried the sick and dying and buried the dead, while wearing
black gowns and hoods covering their faces except for eye holes,
now prohibited, but which I still saw in the Sixties. They run the free ambulances you see
parked outside the Duomo.
The Plague, 1600, with Misericordia workers carrying the sick,
the dying, and the dead.
If you visit the Museo Opera del Duomo, you will
see how Michelangelo sculpted his self portrait in the Pietà
(formerly in the Duomo), as Nicodemus, showing himself as
hooded like a Misericordia member, helping bury the dead
There you will also see the Arnolfo di Cambio
sculptures that had been on its facade, one of them of the
Dormition of the Virgin, showing Christ tenderly taking up the
soul of his Mother, as a girl child, which illustrates perfectly
'Vergina Madre, Figlia del tuo Figlio'
'Virgin Mother, Daughter of your Son'. Oderisi, mentioned by
Dante in Purgatorio XI,
also shows this scene.
SANTA MARIA NUOVA
8. Santa Maria Nuova Hospital. Now
take the Via dell' Oriolo, turn left at Via Folco Portinari, and
ahead of you is the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital. The Oblate
building (now the Oblate library), in front of it housed the
women's charitable order founded in 1288 by Beatrice's nurse,
Monna Tessa, while Beatrice's father, Folco
Portinari founded the hospital, still in use. The women
nurses used a tunnel to reach the hospital from their convent
with its great laundries. Florence Nightingale, born in
Bellosguardo above Florence, would use their model for her
institution of hospitals with nurses. Sarah Parker Remond, the
first woman M.D., an Afro-American Abolitonist friend of
Frederick Douglass, came to study medicine here with a letter
from Giuseppe Mazzini in 1876-1878. We recall Dante's Vita
Nova and its accounts of the deaths of both the banker
Folco Portinari, 31 December 1289, and his daughter Beatrice
(married to Simone de' Bardi), 12 June 1290, perhaps in
The Hospital in the Middle Ages
The Hospital in the Renaissance and today
now continue down the Via Sant'Egidio from the Santa Maria Nuova
Hospital until on your right you see an arch way.
9. Go through this to find yourself in the square of San
Piero Maggiore. The former church façade, now an arch is to your
The medieval towers on your right are those of the Donati and
Albizzi families. This square and its history of violence can
explain why Dante came to be exiled from this city. We need at this point to give an overview of that
history. The land-owning noble Ghibellines, prone to blood shed
and violence and lacking much education, built tall towers such
as these, in fact far taller, feuding in street gang warfare
against each other, both in Florence and in Rome. In 1250 the
Guelf party in Florence, comprised of merchants and bankers,
ousted them, sending them away into exile into the countryside
where they continued to build towers and became robber barons.
Meanwhile in Florence the merchant Guelfs sought peace and
prosperity, levelling the Ghibelline towers to a lower height
and using the excess stone to have Arnolfo di Cambio build the
walls of common defense from them. The Guelfs and their
Notaio/Chancellor, Brunetto Latino, modelled this new government
on Cicero and other Roman writers of the Roman Republic, and on
the concept of the love of God and neighbour from the Gospel,
creating of Florence a Republican Commonwealth, the "Primo
Popolo". Then the disastrous ambush of the Florentine Guelf
forces at Montaperti in 1260 by King Manfred and the
Ghibellines, ended in the exile of the Guelfs until the
victorious Battles of Benevento and Tagliacozzo under their
elected champion, the avaricious and belligerent Count Charles
of Anjou and Provence. The 1280 Peace of Cardinal Latino,
working against Charles' tyranny, next allied Guelf and
Ghibelline families in Florence, with peace-weaving marriages
between them, for instance, with Ghibelline Farinata degli
Uberti's daughter, named Beatrice, being wed to Guelf
Cavalcanti's son, Guido, for which see Inferno
X. To further stabilize Florence, Giano Della Bella
proclaimed the Ordinaments of Justice, 3 July 1292, which
prohibited blood feuding on pain of exile and death, the Podestà
with the Gonfalone or Banner of Justice, arriving at the scene
with his armed band to arrest the perpetrators and end the
Villani, Pacino di Bonaguida,
Giano Della Bella Florence's Banner of Justice,
Now we come to the history of Dante's in-laws, the Donati
family, his wife, Gemma Donati, from a different branch, to
whom he was bethrothed when still a teenager, who bore him
four children, James, John, Peter and Antonia. Distantly, he
was also related to the three children of the knight Simone
Donati who lived in this square, Corso, Forese and Piccarda,
until she became a nun in a Clarissan convent the other side
of the Arno, these family members each referenced by Dante in
the cantiche of the Commedia. He and Forese Donati
had earlier written scurrilous tenzoni, debate poems
against each other and then he imagines that he meets Forese
in Purgatorio XXIII.
He poignantly imagines meeting with Piccarda, whom Corso
Donati snatched from her convent, forcing her marriage and
making her break her Vows to God, in Paradiso III, in the
sphere of the inconstant moon. Her monastery is in Oltrarno,
the other side of the Arno river and up narrow streets at
Monticelli. Maria Grazia Beverini Del Santo wrote an excellent
book about her convent, founded by St Clare's sister who was
given St Francis' saio, his shabby habit.
Maria Grazia Beverini Del Santo, Piccarda Donati nella
storia del Monastero di Monticelli (Firenze: Pagliai,
Dante alluded to Corso shadowily in the Commedia,
in Purgatorio XXIV.82-87
where he describes him as dismembered from being dragged by a
horse at San Salvi after escaping the enraged Florentine
populace from this square, 6 October 1308. Belligerent
handsome Corso fought well in Florentine battles, his career
consisting of martial political offices, being hired as the
mercenary podestà to such cities as Pistoia, Parma and
Treviso, while at home he became the tyrannical leader of the
Black Guelf faction, even releasing criminals from prison who
would support him. Dante, when Prior, 15 June-15 August 1300,
had to exile both Corso Donati, his Black Guelf enemy, and Guido Cavalcanti, his White Guelf
friend and fellow poet, under Giano
Della Bella's Ordinaments of Justice, resulting
tragically in Guido's death from fever that August and in
Corso's undying enmity, for which he, in turn, had Dante
exiled in 1302. Giovanni Villani and Dino Compagni call Corso
Donati a new 'Catiline' after the handsome violent noble
traitor to Cicero and the Roman Replublic, while Pacino di
Bonaguida, who also illustrated copies of the Commedia,
showed that mayhem in the Vatican manuscript of Giovanni
Villani's Nuova Cronica, first the scene of Corso
freeing the criminals from the Stinche (the prison formerly in
Via Ghibellina, towards Santa Croce), breaking down its one
narrow door, and second, his death beyond the walls of the
The only door to the massive Stinche prison built from the
stones of the Ghibelline Tower of the family of Farinata degli
Uberti and begun in 1300 was called 'Porta della Miseria'.
Ghirlandaio later frescoed it as the sixth of the Seven Acts
of Mercy, to visit the prisoner, where he shows the Buonuomino
of San Martino, who later met in
the little church beside Dante's home, as ransoming prisoners.
Dante may be recalling its door with his Gate to Inferno III.
Beyond the map. In Piazza San Salvi, on the church, with the
stemma of Florence and of the Donati, in reference to Corso
Donati and his violence. Oral reading 9 ♫
"Or va", diss'el, "chè quei che più n'ha colpa, vegg'io a coda d'una
bestia tratto inver la valle oue mai non
si scolpa. La bestia ad ogni passo va più ratto crescendo sempre,
finch'ella il percuote, e lascia il corpo vilmente
"Now go", said he, for him who is most in fault
I see dragged at the tail of a beast,
towards the vale where sin is never cleansed.
Faster goes the beast at every step,
increasing ever till it dashes him,
and leaves his body hideously disfigured.
Now walk up the Borgo degli Albizzi until you come to
the Via del Proconsolo. Turn right on the Via del Proconsolo,
then take the first left to come to the Via dell'Oche. We
will now walk boustrophedon
(like oxen ploughing a field back and forth) up the Via dell' Oche, towards the Via Calzaiuoli (stockingmakers),
then down the Corso towards the Via del Proconsolo again to the
20. Bargello, the 21. Badia and up the Via Dante
Alighieri and Via Tavolini to 30.Orsanmichele. Dante, in Paradiso
XVI discourses with his crusading Florentine ancestor
Cacciaguidi about their city, remembering together its narrow
streets of the old centre and all these neighbours, as one does
in dreams, as Joyce was to do, also in exile, with his city of
Dublin, in Ulysses. In the following we present the
buildings, also the stemma and the verses in marble plaques
attached to them by decision of the city in 1900. They now badly
need cleaning and many are illegible, some are lost.
. . . NON DEE PARER MIRABIL COSA
CIO CH'IO DIRO DELLI ALTRI FIORENTINI,
ONDE E LA FAMA NEL TEMPO NASCOSA PAR XVI.85-87
Parrini XXI, Tassinari
XXI. In Via della Oche, 20 rosso, on your right, on the
remains of the Visdomini tower, Dante's lines mentioning their
little church, now in the shadow of the great Duomo. Oral reading
COSI FACEAN I PADRI DI COLORO
CHE, SEMPRE CHE LA CHIESA VOSTRA - VACA,
SI FANNO GRASSI, STANDO A CONSISTORO.
So likewise did the ancestors of those
Who evermore, when vacant is your church,
Fatten by staying in consistory
We now come to the Via Calzaiuoli (the stocking
makers' street), where you turn left to come to the modern
Piazza della Repubblica, built during the Risorgimento, doing so
tearing down much of medieval Florence and, almost, the
beautiful 30. Orsanmichele. Next we turn left again down
Via Speziali (spice sellers, etc.), which will become Via Corso.
13.Map 1C, Parrini
XVI, Tassinari XVI.
Walk to your left until you reach the Piazza della Reppublica,
turning left again in Via degli Speziali, 11 rosso, to find on
your right, where the Alighieri palace once stood. This
street becames the Corso, so named from the race that was run down
it. Oral reading 27 ♫
GLI ANTICHI MIEI ED IO NACQVI NEL LOCO
DOVE SI TRVOVA PRIA L'VLTIMO SESTO
DA QVEL CHE CORRE IL VOSTRO ANNVAL GIVOCO.
My ancestors and I our birthplace had
Where first is found the last ward of the city
By him who runneth in your annual game.
. . . IL LVOGO, V' FVI A VIVER POSTO
DI GIORNO IN GIORNO PIV' DI BEN SI SPOLPA,
ED A TRISTA RVINA PAR DISPOSTO.
. . . QVEI CHE PIV' N'HA COLPA
VEGG'IO A CODA D'VNA BESTIA TRATTO
IN VER LA VALLE OVE MAI NON SI SCOLPA".
The place where I was set to live
From day to day of good is more depleted
And unto dismal ruin seems ordained
. . .him most guilty of it
At a beast's tial behold I dragged along
Towards the valley where is no repentance.
Here, just before this plaque on the Donati tower,
we also find the arch to the Piazza de' Donati, where Dante
probably played as a boy. Now, with
Covid, it is where you can dine under the stars at the Trattoria
Il Pennello. We were reading the Commedia and the Vita
nova there, then having supper. And yes, that's my
bicycle, partly in the foto.
15. The next arch leads you to the church on
your left dedicated to St Margaret de' Cerchi, where Beatrice's
Portinari family worshipped, Dante's family instead going to the
church dedicated to 25. St.
The church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi
(dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of
childbirth), is just down the street from the fake 25.
Dante House and Museo Casa di Dante. It is where Beatrice
Portinari was married at twenty to Simone dei Bardi in 1286. She
died four years later, 8 June 1290, and would have been buried
with the dei Bardi family in Santa Croce, while the Portinari
tombs, including that of her father Folco and her nurse Monna
Tessa, were in this small church, Folco's and Monna Tessa's tomb
now being at Santa Maria Nuova
Then turn back again to via del Corso.
16.Map 1D, Parrini
I, Tassinari I. In
Via del Corso, 18, where the Adimari palace stood. Oral reading 26 ♫
TVTTI GRIDAVANO -A FILIPPO ARGENTI!-
E'L FIORENTINO SPIRITO BIZZARRO
IN SÈ MEDESMO SI VOLVEA CO' DENTI.
They all were shouting, "at Filippo Argenti!"
And that exasperate spirit Florentine
Turned round upon himself with his own teeth.
Portinari, Beatrice's banker father, founded the hospital of 9.
Santa Maria Nuova, while her
nurse, Monna Tessa, founded the adjacent Order of the Oblate,
who nursed the sick and dying there, while the Misericordia by
the Duomo carried the sick and the dying and buried the dead,
Michelangelo showing himself as such a Misericordia worker in
the Pietà now in the Opera del Duomo but formerly in the Cathedral. Dante earlier had celebrated the
family in his Vita nova. This plaque describes
Beatrice's appearance to him in Purgatorio
XXX, in the colours that would become Italy's national
flag at the Risorgimento. Just before the plaque is the entrance
to the Palazzo Portinari-Salviati where you can have a coffee
and admire its later embellishments.
SOVRA CANDIDO VEL , CINTA D'ULIVA,
DONNA M'APPARVE SOTTO VERDE MANTO
VESTITA DEL COLOR DI FIAMMA VIVA.
Over her snow-white veil with olive cinct
Appeared a lady under a green mantle
Vested in colour of the living flame.
18.Map 1D, Parrini
XV, Tassinari XV.
In Via del Corso, Via del Proconsolo, to your right, where the
Ravignani palace stood. Oral reading 22 ♫
BELLINCION BERTI VID'IO ANDAR CINTO
DI CVOIO E D'OSSO, E VENIR DALLO SPECCHIO
LA DONNA SVA SANZA IL VISO DIPINTO.
Bellincion Berti saw I go begirt
With leather and with bone, and from the mirror
His dame depart without a painted face.
PAR XV.112-114 19.Map 1D, Parrini
XVII, Tassinari XVII.
In Via del Corso, 4 rosso, on your left, where the Cerchi palace
stood. Oral reading 23
LA PORTA, CH'AL PRESENTE E CARCA
DI NUOVA FELLONIA, DI TANTO PESO, CHE TOSTO FIA IATTVRA DELLA BARCA.
. . . the gate that is at present laden
With a new felony of so much weight
That soon it shall be jetsam from the bark. PAR XVI.
THE BARGELLO, PALACE OF THE
20. Now we turn into the Via del Proconsolo. On our left
we come to the Bargello, then the Palace of the Podestà. the
hired outsider under contract for a limited term of office (like
the American President), who had to swear to uphold and
administer the Constitution, the Statutes, bringing with him
soldiers, lawyers and judges, with which to administer justice,
prevent crime, mend roads and bridges, and care for widows and
orphans. This part of the city of Florence with the 20.
Bargello, 23.Torre della
Castagna, and 40. Palazzo
Vecchio, then called the Palazzo del Popolo, is dedicated
to its government, the State, rather than the Church, to
Justice, complemented by Mercy. See Hare, Florence.
In 1255 the Primo Popolo of the City of Florence
pridefully placed this plaque [Map 2D] on the
front wall of the BARGELLO, Richard Mac Cracken discovering that
it was written by Dante's teacher, Brunetto
Latino, taking the words from Lucan. That pride would be
undone at the Battle of Montaperti, 1260, and Brunetto exiled in
Spain and France, though Dante's parents, being relatively poor
and unimportant, remained in Florence where he would be born six
S[AN]C[TU]SQUE[M] MVNDVS ADORAT
CV[M] PASTOR MV[N]DI REGNABA[N]T REX[QVE] GVIELMVS.
ET CV[M] VIR SPLENDE[N]S ORNATVS NOBILITATE
DE MEDIOLANO DE TVRRI SIC ALAMANNVS
VRBEM FLORENTE[M] GAVDENTI CORDE REGEBAT
MENIA TVNC FECIT VIR CO[N]STA[N]S ISTA FVTVRIS.
QVI PREERAT P[O]P[V]LO FLORENTI BARTHOLOMEVS
MA[N]TVA QVEM GENVIT COGNOMINE DENVVVLONO
FVLGENTE[M] SENSV CLARV[M] PROBITATE REFVLTUM
QUE[M] SIGNA[N]T AQVILE REDDV[N]T SVA SIGNA DECORVM
INSIGNVM P[O]P[V]LI QUOD CO[N]FERT GAVDIA VITE
ILLIS QVI CVPIVNT VRBEM CONSVRGERE CELO
QVAM FOVEAT [CHRISTV]S CO[N]SERVET FEDERE PACIS
EST QVIA CV[N]CTORUM FLORENTIA PLENA BONORV[M].
HOSTES DEVICIT BELLO MAGNO[QUE] TVMVLTV
GAVDET FORTVNA SIGNIS POPVLO[QUE] POTENTI
FIRMAT EMIT FERVENS STERNIT NV[N]C CASTRA SALVTE
QVE MARE QVE TERRA[M] QUE TOTV[M]
PER QVAM REGNANTE[M] FIT FELIX TVSCIA TOTA
TA[M]QUA[M] ROMA SEDET SEMPER DVCTVRA TRIVMPHOS.
OMNIA DISCERNIT CERTO SVB IVRE CONHERCENS
ANNIS MILLENIS BIS CENTVM STANTIBUS ORBE
PENTA DECEM IVNCTIS [CHRIST]I SVB NOMINE QVIN[QUE]
CUM TRINA DECIMA TVNC TE[M]PORIS INDITIONE.
Godi, Fiorenza, poi che se' sì
che per mare e per terra batti
e per lo 'nferno tuo nome si spande!
ASF, Libro di
Montaperti, fol. 33r
Vatican Library, L.VIII.296, fol. 92r, Villani, Nuova
Latino. before leaving for Spain, wrote pages in his own hand in
the Libro di Montaperti, which is now kept in the
Florentine State Archives along with the Libro del Chiodo.
The Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica, manuscript is
illuminated by Pacino di Bonguida who would also illuminate
manuscripts of the Commedia for Francesco da Barberino.
THE BOOK OF THE NAIL
THE BOOK OF EXILE
Dante will metamorphose this book of exile,
the 1302 Libro del Chiodo, the Book of his Exile, into
the Commedia, the Book of Pilgrimage, just as had also
Brunetto converted the Libro di Montapeti into the the Tesoretto,
the Livres dou Tresor and the Tesoro. The Libro del Chiodo, formerly kept in the
Bargello, now in the Archivio di Stato in Piazza Beccaria,
proclaimed exile and even death to those White Guelfs it named,
Dante Alighieri being so listed three times.
We need at this point to give an overview of the
history of Dante's Florence. The land-owning noble Ghibellines,
prone to blood shed and violence and lacking much education,
built tall towers, feuding in gang warfare against each other,
both in Florence and in Rome. In 1250 the Guelf party in
Florence, comprised of merchants and bankers, ousted them,
sending them away into exile into the countryside where they
continued to build towers and became robber barons. Meanwhile in
Florence the Guelfs sought peace and prosperity, levelling the
Ghibelline towers and using the excess stone to have Arnolfo di
Cambio build the walls of common defense from them. The Guelfs
and their Notaio/Chancellor, Brunetto
Latino, modelled their government on Cicero and other
Roman writers, and on the concept of the love of God and
neighbour from the Gospel, creating of Florence a Republican
Commonwealth, the "Primo Popolo". The disastrous ambush of the
Florentine Guelf forces at Montaperti in 1260 by King Manfred
and the Ghibellines, ended in exile for the Guelfs until the
victorious Battles of Benevento and Tagliacozzi under their
elected champion, the avaricious and belligerent Count Charles
of Anjou and Provence. The 1280 Peace of Cardinal Latino,
working against Charles' tyranny, allied Guelf and Ghibelline
families in Florence, with peace-weaving marriages between them,
for instance, with Ghibelline Farinata
degli Uberti's daughter, named Beatrice, being wed to
Guelf Cavalcanti's son, Guido, Inferno X. To further
stabilize Florence, Giano Della
Bella proclaimed the Ordinaments of Justice, 3 July 1292,
which prohibited blood feuding on pain of exile and death, the
Podestà with the Gonfalone or Banner of Justice, arriving at the
scene with his armed band to arrest the perpetrators and end the
The Ordinaments of Justice also required participants in
government to be members of trade guilds, having a commercial
livelihood, that they participate in its prosperity, rather than
being land-holding feuding nobility. Dante, in order to
participate in government, enrolled in 1295 in a guild for
medical doctors and spice merchants, the Arte de' Medici e
Speziali, whose stemma or coat of arms was of the Madonna and
Child. This guild was also responsible for the production of
manuscripts, written on parchment, illuminated with pigments and
bound with leather and metal. Dante, from the 15th of June to
the 15th of August 1300, served as one of the six Priors,
required by the Ordinaments of Justice to live together for two
months in the 23.Torre della Castagna, removed from
corruption, and to adjudicate in cases of violence. Meanwhile the Guelf party had fractalled into the
Black Guelfs, who became like the violent noble Ghibellines,
as opposed to the White Guelfs who maintained the Guelf
tradition as the party for republican peace and prosperity. During
his tenure his great friend, the fellow White Guelf Guido Cavalcanti and their great enemy,
the violent black Guelf Corso Donati
came to blows and Dante was constrained to pass sentence of
exile on both of them. As a result Guido died of fever
contracted during that exile to Sarsana on his return in August
while Corso never forgave Dante for his exile, causing Dante's
in turn to be lifelong. Dante's wife, Gemma Donati, distantly
related to Corso Donati, remained in Florence, while their
children, James, John, Peter and Antonia, joined their father in
exile in the Veneto, where James and Peter would write
commentaries to their father's Commedia and Antonia
would become a Clarissan nun, taking the name, "Beatrice", in
Enrico Giannini (the Giannini family have
been bookbinders in Florence for five generations) and
Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu (whose grandfather was the top
coppersmith in his part of Romania) together created the
facsimile of the cover of the infamous Book of the Nail, the Libro
del Chiodo, now in the Florentine State Archives, in which
Dante is, three times, condemned to exile or to be burned at the
stake if he returns to Florence. This binding contains the
facsimile edition edited by Francesca Klein of the Florentine
State Archives, published by the Edizioni Polistampa in 2004. It
is on display in the Museo Casa di Dante, while another copy is
in the English Cemetery and will be given to the Società
Dantesca Italiana. The original which we saw is now in the
Archivio di Stato in Piazza Beccaria. The Libro del
Chiodo, Francesca Klein explains,was
formerly kept in the Bargello.
Facsimile of the cover. The
nail is fixed to the back of the cover.
Page 4 1302 'Dante Alleghieri de
sextu Sancti Petri Maioris' is condemned to two years' of exile,
for the crime of barratry ('super baracteriis, iniquis
extorsionibus et lucris illicitis').
Pagina 15 'Dante Allighierii'
Page 147 'De sextu Porte Sancti
Petri Dante Alleghierij'
The Libro del Chiodo (Book of the Nail),
Francesca Klein observes, was kept in the Bargello, the
city's prison and the seat of the Podestà and the Council of
Justice of Florence. In 1302 the Podestà Cante de' Gabrielli di
Gubbio condemned Dante to exile.
Padua, Arena Chapel,
completed, 1305, seen by Francesco da Barberino
Bargello, Magdalen Chapel, school of Giotto,
After Dante's death in exile in Ravenna, 1321, his
fellow student Francesco da Barberino, now returned from exile,
had this scene frescoed by Giotto and his studio with Dante
Alighieri, Corso Donati (Francesco's
patron), Brunetto Latino (who had
taught Guido Cavalcanti, Dante Alighieri and Francesco da
Barberino in the 1280s-90s), Bishop Antonio
D'Orso, all now dead, with himself, living, as kneeling in
front of his fellow student, their teacher and his former
patrons in the Magdalen Chapel of the Bargello.
Those condemned to death would spend the night
before in prayer in this Magdalen Chapel. At the same
time Francesco commissioned the tomb by Tino da Camaino for the
Bishop Antonio D'Orso in the Duomo.
Francesco would carefully rehabilitate Dante's memory in
Florence, seeing to it that a hundred manuscripts of the Commedia
issued from his Florentine publishing house, two of which he
Now we turn back from the Bargello to the 21.
Badia on our left, the ancient monastery, founded by the mother
of Count Ugo, whose monks Dante would have heard singing the
Psalms in Gregorian
chant that he places in the Commedia. Each year
the city dignatories come here to the now-Renaissance tomb to
celebrate his memory as if the city's founder.
VGO DI TOSCANA
CIASCVN CHE DELLA BELLA INSEGNA PORTA
DEL GRAN BARONE, IL CVI NOME E'L CVI PREGIO
LA FESTA DI TOMMASO RICONFORTA
DA ESSO EBBE MILIZIA E PRIVILEGIO.
Each one that bears the beautiful escutcheon
Of the great barn whose renown and name
The festival of Thomas keepeth fresh
Knighthood and privilege from him received. PAR XVI.137-139
Willa, the mother of Ugo of Tuscany, 951-1001,
founded this Abbey in Florence.
Enter the door up the steps. The church is
now much altered from what it was in Dante's day. There as a boy Dante would have heard
the bells rung and the monks sing at Terce and Nones,
at nine o'clock and then at three o'clock, at the third and
ninth hours of daylight. Their other Offices of Prayers would
have been Lauds, Matins, Sext, Vespers and Compline,
as well as Mass. Their singing would have been in Gregorian
chant. When we did the Music
of the Commedia in concerts we used the
manuscripts of Dante's epoch from Santa Reparata and
elsewhere. Dante describes seeing Beatrice
here in Vita nova V. The
city dignatories still meet here with the Gonfalone of
Justice to honour Ugo of Tuscany and celebrate Mass every
21 December, the feastday of St Thomas the Apostle.
Boccaccio would lecture on
Dante's Commedia in its chapel of St Stephen and
Filipino would paint this painting of Saint Bernard's vision
of the Virgin, telling him what to write in his commentary
to Solomon's Song of Songs, which Dante evoked in Paradiso
Parrini XIV, Tassinari
XIV. In Via Dante Alighieri, 1, to your left as you come out
of the 21. BADIA church. Oral reading 19 ♫
FIORENZA DENTRO DALLA CERCHIA ANTICA,
OND'ELLA TOGLIE ANCORA E TERZA E NONA, SI STAVA IN PACE, SOBRIA E
Florence, within the ancient circling wherefrom
she still receiveth terce and nones, abode in peace,
sober and chaste.
Dante’s membership in the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali.
June-15 August 15 1300, Dante is one of Florence’s Priors in
the 23.Torre della Castagna, near Orsanmichele. These Priors,
according to the Ordinaments of Justice, have to exile Corso Donati and Guido Cavalcanti, who dies in
August of malaria.
E chiamoronsi Priori dell'Arti e stettono rinchiusi nella torre della Castagna appresso alla Badia, acciò non temessono le minacce de' potenti
Dino Compagni, Cronica
SAINT MARTIN'S CHURCH
Church of Saint Martin/Chiesa di San
Martino del Vescovo, across from the 23. Torre della Castagna and across from
the 24. Dante house, was
probably founded by Irish monks. Dante married Gemma Donati here in 1285 when he was
twenty years old. Later than Dante's day Bishop Antonino would
found there the the BUONUOMINI DI SAN MARTINO and it would be
frescoed with the Seven Acts of Mercy
1. Feed the Hungry, 2. Give drink to the
Thirsty, 3. Clothe the Naked, 4. Shelter the Pilgtim, 5. Visit
the Sick 6. Visit the Prisoner, 7. Bury the Dead, painted by
Ghirlandaio, these mirroring the earlier scenes in the roundels
of the Madonna della Misericordia fresco,
now in the Bigallo. Just as the Misericordia and the Santa Maria
Nuova Hospital still exist as charitable foundations to help the
sick, the dying and the dead, so does this little church still
exemplify Florence's carrying out of the Seven Acts of Mercy.
Observe on your right a slot within a metal cross for giving
money and on your left a marble slot for letters 'Per le
istanze'. You can still give them the alms about which the
twelve Buonuomini (Good Men) of San Martino every Friday
meet, then give to the deserving poor signaled out to them in
the letters given them. The only medieval and Renaissance
foundation/confraternity no longer functioning is 30. Orsanmichele, built as a
granary to fee even the enemy in time of famine. It was these
lay confraternities from the Middle Ages and Renaissance that
create Florence's great art, not the Church, not the Medici.
They continue as the moral structuring of the city. They derive
from the Gospels and from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics,
brought from Spain's multiculturalism of Arabic learning which
preserved Greek philosophy, taught them by Brunetto in his Tesoro and
by Dante, his student, in his Commedia.
DANTE'S HOUSE 25. The Dante House on your right
Parrini VIII, Tassinari
VIII. In Via Dante Alighieri, 2, CASA DI DANTE, on your
right, at Dante's birthplace. Oral reading 20 ♫
. . . I' FVI NATO E CRESCIVTO SOVRA 'L BEL FIVME ARNO ALLA GRAN VILLA.
. . . Born was I and grew up
In the great town on the fair River of Arno. INF
The real Dante House, 1872
The real House The fake House
We see this same door architecture in panels
painted by Lorenzetti showing scenes from the life of Dante's
contemporary, Saint Umiltà of Faenza (+1310).
25. DanteHouse 23.Torre della Castagna,
The present Museo Casa di Dante is fake, built in
the early twentieth century, but the building next to it is the
one shown by Leonardo Bruni, he tells us, to Dante's great
grandson, Leonardo Alighieri. See especially the documentation
in Della Casa di Dante: Relazione con
Documenti al Consiglio Generale del Comune di Firenze
(Firenze: Le Monnier, 1865). It is here that Dante penned the Vita nova, presenting it on Easter day
to his teacher, with the accompanying sonnet, "Messer Brunetto,
questa pulzeletta". Behind the true Dante house, reached by way
of the trattoria "Il Pennello", is the Piazza
de' Donati where he would have played as a boy, Gemma
Donati living here and being bethrothed to him by their elders.
26. Map 2D, Parrini
XVIII, Tassinari XVIII.
In Via dei Tavolini, corner of Via dei Cerchi, on your left, where
the Galigai palace was. Oral reading 16 ♫
GALIGAI . . . ED AVEA GALIGAIO DORATA IN CASA SVA GIA L'ELSA E'L
. . . already Galigaio
Had hilt and pommel gilded in the house.
CIASCVN CHE DELLA BELLA INSEGNA PORTA
DEL GRAN BARONE . . .
. . .
DA ESSO EBBE MILIZIA E PRIVILEGIO
AVVEGNA CHE CON POPOL SI RAVNI
OGGI COLVI CHE LA FASCIA COL FREGIO.
Each one that bears the beautiful ecutcheon
Of the great barone . . .
. . .
Knighthood and privilege from him received;
Though with the populace unites himself;
Today the man who binds it with a border.
2D, Parrini IX, Tassinari
IX. In Via dei Tavolini, 8, on the remains of the Abati
palace. Oral reading 17
PIANGENDO MI SGRIDO PERCHÉ MI PESTI?
SE TV NON VIENI A CRESCER LA VENDETTA
DI MONTAPERTI, PERCHÉ MI MOLESTE?
. . .
. . . VN ALTRO GRIDO - CHE HAI TV, BOCCA?
NON TI BASTA SONAR COLLE MASCELLE
SE TV NON LATRI? QUAL DIAVOL TI TOCCA?!
Weeping it cried out to me: "Why tramplest thou on me?
If thou comest not to increase the vengeance for Montaperti,
why dost thou moletst me?"
. . .
When cried another "What doth ail thee, Bocca?
Is't not enought to clatter with thy jaws,
But thou must bark? What devil touches thee?
Here Dante steps on a lost soul embedded in the ice in the
deepest part of Hell, reserved for traitors. A debate ensues,
echoing the encounter with Pier delle Vigne, Dante offering to
name him in his poem, the soul desiring to remain nameless.
Another identifies him as the Ghibelline Bocca degli
Abati, who joined the Guelfs, pretending to be on their
side, then cut off the hand of their standard bearer, bringing
about their defeat. See Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica,
I.78. Dante was not yet born at the time
of the Montaperti ambush, though Brunetto, his teacher, was deeply involved in its history. His
mother was Bella degli Abati. 29.Map 2D, Parrini
II, Tassinari II.
Turn left on the Via Calzaioli, 11 rosso, just beyond 30. Orsanmichele, these on your
left, on the Cavalcanti palace. Oral reading 15 ♫
. . . SE PER QVESTO CIECO
CARCERE VAI PER ALTEZZA D'INGEGNO,
MIO FIGLIO OV'E? PERCHE NON È TECO?
ED IO A LVI DA ME STESSO NON VEGNO
COLVI CVI GVIDO VOSTRO EBBE A DISDEGNO.
. . . If through this blind
Prison thou goest by loftiness of genius,
Where is my son? And why is he not with thee?
And I to him "I could not of myself,
He who is waiting yonder leads me here,
Whom in disdain perhaps your Guido had".
Guido Cavalcanti, ten years older than Dante, was, with him, a
major part of the Dolce stil nuovo, the "Sweet New
Style", movement in poetry, Dante creating the Vita nova
about himself and his adulterous/courtly love for Beatrice,
Cavalcanti with his for Giovanna, when both Cavalcanti and Dante
are married, Cavalcanti to Farinata
degli Uberti's daughter, with the same name, Beatrice,
Dante to Gemma Donati. Guido
Cavalcanti, among many lyrics, wrote a sonnet about 30.
Orsanmichele (Garden of St
Michael), how her Madonna achieved, in a lay setting, so many
miracles, that the Franciscan Friars of Santa Croce were
envious, Giovanni Villani adding that the Dominicans were also.
'Una figura della Donna mia', 1292
Una figura della Donna mia
s'adora, Guido, a San Michele in Orto,
che, di bella sembianza, onesta e pia,
de' peccatori è gran rifugio e porto.
E qual con devozion lei s'umilìa,
chi più languisce, più n'ha di conforto:
li 'nfermi sana e' domon' caccia via
e gli occhi orbati fa vedere scorto.
Sana 'n publico loco gran langori;
con reverenza la gente la 'nchina;
d[i] luminara l'adornan di fòri.
La voce va per lontane camina,
ma dicon ch'è idolatra i Fra' Minori,
per invida che non è lor vicina.
ORSANMICHELE 30. Turn back on Via Calzaiuoli to
Orsanmichele, first walk all around its outside, then first
enter its church with the shrine to the Madonna and Child, next
cross over to the Arte della Lana, the Wool Guild (which traded
cloth and wool with England and which built the Duomo) and mount its great staircase to come
to the bridge to Orsanmichele's second and top floors. This is
also where the Società Dantesca Italiana has its fine library,
its lecture hall and its offices. See Augustus Hare's
description in his book on Florence.
Orsanmichele is open and free on Mondays.
Orsanmichele, before its cleaning,
Libro del BiadaioloLas Cantigas de Santa Maria
with candles and timed electric light.
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria,
a copy given to Florence by King Alfonso after 1266.
ORSANMICHELE, built as a granary
to feed even the enemy, such as a Siena and Pisa, in time of
famine, in reparations for Florence's war crime of the embargo
of foodstuffs to Pisa resulting in the cannibalism of Ugolino
della Gherardesca of his children in Inferno. Its shrine
is modeled on the Madonna in a tabernacle of Alfonso el Sabio's
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria. Dante's Guild of the Medici
e Speziali used the Madonna and Child as their emblem. ARNOLFO DI CAMBIO sculpted the
Virgin's Soul as a girl child, Wisdom, God's Daughter, carried
to Heaven by Christ on Santa Reparata. These all used by Dante
in Paradiso XXXIII, 'Vergine
Madre, Figlia del tuo Figlio'.
It can be
useful to have at hand a time line concerning these events
in connection with Orsanmichele:
Brunetto Latino goes on
embassy to Alfonso X el Sabio, following writing several
folios and being often named in the Libro di Montaperti,
then is in exile in France. Alfonso X el Sabio, seeking to
be crowned Holy Roman Emperor, sends Florence a regal copy
of Las Cantigas de Santa Maria with the miracles of
the Virgin in a tabernacle (BNCF MS Banco Rari 20). Brunetto
sends him a Second Redaction copy of Li Livres dou
Tresor, now Escorial MS ii.I.3.
Birth of Francesco da Barberino
Birth of Dante Alighieri
October 1284 The Tuscan League of Florence, Genoa and Siena,
with ser “Burnectus Latinus” as ambassador, is seemingly
allied against Pisa to please Charles of Anjou, ASF, Capitoli
di Firenze, Reg.43, fols. 34r-37v,
Pisa, blockaded and starving, discovers the betrayal of
Ugolino della Gherardesca with Florence, and places Ugolino
and his progeny in prison (Inferno 32.124-139 -
33.1-108; G. Villani, Cronica, VII. civ).
March 1289 Ugolino and his two sons and two grandsons are
discovered to have died of starvation and cannibalism.
March 1289, 7 December 1291, 17 July 1292, the Comune of
Florence discusses giving compensation for Count Guelfo,
Ugolino’s sole surviving son for this war crime
July 1292 Giani Della Bella’s Ordinaments of Justice.
Miracles of the Virgin in Orsanmichele’s tabernacle begin,
Guido Cavalcanti writing about them in his sonnet.
Dante’s membership in the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali.
June-15 August 15 1300, Dante is one of Florence’s Priors in
the 23. Torre della
Castagna, near Orsanmichele. These Priors, according
to the Ordinaments of Justice, have to exile Corso Donati and Guido Cavalcanti, who dies in
consequence of his exile in August of malaria.
The Libro del Chiodo with the sentences against the
White Guelfs by the Black Guelfs, whose leader is Corso
Donati, is kept in the Podestà’s Palace,
near Orsanmichele. Dante and Francesco are themselves
exiled. Francesco goes to Padua where Giotto is frescoing
the Arena Chapel.
Orsanmichele is destroyed in a fire, and then rebuilt.
1304-1308 Francesco da Barberino is Notaio
to Corso Donati who is elected Podestà
in Treviso. Francesco commissions the
now lost fresco about Justice, Mercy and Conscience for the
Bishop of Treviso’s Palace. It is probably during this
period that Dante begins the Commedia.
Henry VII of Luxembourg is Holy Roman Emperor. Dante
Alighieri and Francesco da Barberino together write Latin
Epistles to him. Dante composes the De Monarchia.
Manuscripts BML Plut. 89 inf. 41, in Latin, which opens with images of
Pope and Emperor, and the bildercodex BRicc MS
1538, in Italian, which is richly illuminated by the
“Master of the Paduan Antiphonaries” and the “Master of
the Naples’ Gratian” are finished in 1313. Both
manuscripts contain texts by Brunetto Latino and appear to
be written by Francesco da Barberino.
Francesco da Barberino is sent on many embassies for Doge
Giovanni Soranzo of Venice and is associated with the
Dandalò ducal family, perhaps copies the First Redaction Li
Livres dou Tresor, Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare MS
DVIII, for them. As “clericus conjugatus”(a married cleric),
he becomes Doctor of Law.
Francesco returns to Florence with his second wife and his
children from both marriages.
Dante Alighieri’s death in Ravenna. Francesco da Barberino
commissions the tomb in the Duomo
sculpted by Tino da Camaino for his patron, Bishop Antonio D’Orso with the figure of
Death shooting arrows from two bows. He seeks to
rehabilitate Dante’s memory in Florence with the Officina
of the “Danti del Cento” that is active until his own death.
He perhaps commissions the Magdalen
Chapel fresco of Brunetto, Corso, Dante and himself.
II Libro di Biadaiolo notes Orsanmichele’s granary
feeds even Siena and Pisa in time of famine, illustrated by
the “Master of the Dominican Effigies”.
1322-1345 Giovanni Villani’s Cronica
nuova, illustrated by Pacino di Bonaguida.
Orsanmichele is again rebuilt.
Bernardo Daddi paints the Madonna and Child, copying the
1350 Dante Alighieri’s
daughter, Antonia, now a nun in Ravenna with the name in
religion of “Beatrice”, is given ten gold florins by
Boccaccio from the Compagnia
dei laudesi di Orsanmichele.
Orcagna’s tabernacle is constructed for Bernardo Daddi’s
Monna Biancia dies, Orsanmichele receives her legacy.
1364 The Judge, Pietro Alighieri, Dante's first-born son,
leaves his parents' house in the Piazzetta San Martino to
the Compagnia dei Laudesi di Orsanmichele.
23 June 1367 A
manuscript of the Roman de la Rose is sold by the Compagnia dei Laudesi di
Orsanmichele for four golden florins.
We remember that the members of the 6.Compagnia dei Laudesi di
Orsanmichele were buried beside Santa Reparata (to
be rebuilt as Santa Maria del Fiore), beneath this scupture of
The tombs were removed
from the Piazza San Giovanni in the nineteenth century.
Giovanni Villani, Cronica, VII.clv. 1322-1348
“Of the Marian Miracles that happened in Florence at
Orsanmichele. In that year  on the third of July, there
began to be shown openly great miracles in the city of Florence
through an image of St Mary painted on a pilaster of the Loggia
of Orsanmichele where grain is sold, the sick healed, the
crooked made straight, and the blind having their vision
restored in great numbers. But the Dominicans and also the
Franciscans, out of envy or for other reasons not related to
faith, slandered the Florentines. In the place of the Garden of
St Michael there was formerly a church of the Garden of St
Michael, which was under the Abbey of Nonantola in Lombardy, and
which was demolished to make a piazza. But through the custom
and devotion to that figure every evening the laity would sing
hymns of praise and such grew the fame of the miracles and
merits of Our Lady, that people from all Tuscany came on
pilgrimage at the Marian feast days, bringing wax images of the
miracles she had wrought, so that both inside and outside this
loggia was filled with these figures. And the Company [of praise
singers] that formed, grew so great, including most of the best
people of Florence, who all gave offerings and legacies, that in
that year more than six thousand livres were given to the poor,
so, without acquiring property, with too much coming in, all of
it was distributed to the poor".
Laudario della Compagnia dei Laudesi di Orsanmichele
1337 Present Orsanmichele built 1347, Madonna della Grazia di
Bernardo Daddi, 1357 Tabernacolo di Andrea Orcagna 31.Map 2C, Parrini
XX, Tassinari 20. In
Via Lamberti, 20 rosso, on your right, where the Lamberti palace
stood. Oral reading 28
. . . E LE PALLE DELL'ORO
FIORIAN FIORENZA IN TVTT'I SVOI GRAN FATTI.
. . . and how the balls of gold
Florence enflowered in all their mighty deeds. PAR XVI.110-111
32. Behind the Post Office is the Museum of the Palazzo
Davanzati in the Piazza Davanzati: A beautiful palace of the
fourteenth century, with frescoed walls and complete with
plumbing and toilets, much loved by Italian school children.
Chiaro Davanzati was a poet colleague of Dante's teacher, Brunetto Latino. The palace shows
what living would be like for a rich noble Florentine family,
while Dante, an orphan, was comparatively poor. Visitable.
33.Map 2B, Parrini
VI, Tassinari VI. In
Via Tornabuoni, 1, formerly Via dei Belli, on the Gianfigliazzi
palace. Oral reading 2
GIANFIGLIAZZI . . . COM’IO RIGVARDANDO TRA LOR VEGNO, IN VNA BORSA GIALLA VIDI AZZVRRO CHE D'VN LEONE AVEA FACCIA E CONTEGNO
And as I gazing round me come among them,
Upon a yellow pouch I azure saw
That had the face and posture of a lion.
Dante in Inferno
XVII, from the viewpoint of the fraudulent chimaera,
Gerione, sees the Usurers in Hell (his own father was one), and
describes their pouches as having their stemmi, their
coats of arms. One of them is Rinaldo Scrovegni, whose son has
Giotto fresco the Arena Chapel in Padua.
In this part of Florence one finds Piazza Limbo, Via Inferno,
Via Purgatorio and the ancient and very beautiful church of the
Santi Apostoli where they keep the the three flint stones
brought back by the Pazzi and the lantern from which to light
the Easter Fire, a ceremony brought back from the First
Crusade's Jerusalem Sepulchre, that is then carried to the Duomo on Easter Sunday to light the Dove,
symbolizing the Holy Spirit. the "Colombina", that flies out of
the Cathedral to light the Carroccio, the
great war chariot that is brought through the streets, drawn by
white oxen with gilded garlanded horns, setting off its
fireworks. When Dante creates the Chariot for Beatrice in Purgatorio
it is with the memory of this Caroccio, captured by the Siense
and Ghibellines at Montaperti and then restored to Florence.
Dante's great great grandfather, Cacciaguida, was present in
Jerusalem at the Second Crusade, dying there. If you are in
Florence on three separate years, go to the Carroccio fireworks
outside one year, then inside the Duomo another (the noise is
horrendous from the cathedral's acoustics), the third to the
37.Map 3C, Parrini XXIX, Tassinari XXIX. On
the PONTE VECCHIO, where was the statue of Mars. On the other side
of the river Arno is 'Oltrarno' or 'beyond the Arno'. Oral reading
. . . CONVENIASI A QVELLA PIETRA SCEMA,
CHE GVARDA IL PONTE, CHE FIORENZA FESSE
VITTIMA NELLA SVA PACE POSTREMA
But it behoved the mutilated statue
Which guards the bridge, that Florence should provide
A victim in her latest hour of peace.
Giovanni Villani tells
us, this strife between Ghibelline and Guelf began at the
jilting by a Buondelmonte
bethrothed to a daughter of the Amidei
family, a jilting caused by a Donati
mother who has her daughter marry him instead of the Amidei
bethrothed, Buondelmonte then being murdered at the statue of
the god Mars on Easter morning on thePonte Vecchio by the 9.
Uberti, the 31.Lamberti and the 36. Amidei, in 1216, that statue said to have
originally been in the Baptistery as
a temple of Mars, Giovanni Villani, Cronica, V.xxxviii.
These illustrations to Florentine history in Giovanni
Villani’s Cronica are by Pacino da Buonaguidawho also illustrates
Cento’ manuscripts. Dante Alighieri and his fellow student,
Francesco da Barberino thus poeticize historical chronicles by
Dino Compagni and Giovanni Villani.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose father, a great
scholar of Dante, was in political exile from Italy in London,
painted the scene of Dante painting angels, imagining the 25.
Dante House as by the Arno with a view of this bridge.
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
Dante painting angels
38.Map 3C, Parrini
IV, Tassinari IV. On
the PONTE VECCHIO, the Old Bridge, beneath the Vasari Corridor.
Oral reading 7 ♫
. . . IN SVL PASSO D'ARNO
. . . on the pass of Arno INF XIII.146 PIAZZA SANTA FELICITA'
39. Once you have crossed the 38. Ponte Vecchio into the Oltrarno (the other side of the Arno River,
like Rome's other side of the Tiber River, the Tevere, as
"Trastevere"), you will see on your left hand side the
little piazza of Santa Felicità with the column bound in iron at
its centre. Giovanni Villani tells us, Cronica VII.lxxxix,
that on St John's Day, 24 June 1283, when Dante was 18, a
thousand young Florentines gathered there, dressed in white, to
celebrate the God of Love, Amore,
In the year 1283, in the month of June
for the Feast of St John’s Day, the city of Florence being
in a good state of happiness, and tranquil and at peace, and
of use for the merchants and craftspeople, largely because
of the Guelfs who ruled the land, they made in the area of
Santa Felicità in the Oltrarno, where were the head and
beginner of that house of de’ Rossi with their neighbours, a
company and brigata of a thousand men and more, all dressed
in white clothing with a lord called Amore. . . . This court
lasted for two months and was the most noble and famous that
ever was in the city of Florence and in Tuscany. . . . this
lasted until 1284 when the conflict began between the people
and those with power, between the White and the Black
Amore to be found in Brunetto Latino's
Tesoretto, in Dante Alighieri's Vita
nova, a copy of
which Dante will present to his teacher one Easter day
with the accompanying sonnet, "Messer Brunetto, questa
pulzeletta", in the Francesco da
Barberino's Documenti d'Amore, and in the Canzoniere
Palatino. Francesco da
Barberino was a fellow student with Dante
Alighieri and Guido Cavalcanti
of Brunetto Latino.
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Strozzi 146,
fol. 42r, Brunetto Latino,
Column in Piazza Santa Felicità,
Florence Tesoretto, Miniaturist, Francesco da Barberino
Apostolica Vaticana, Francesco da Barberino, Documenti
Then turn back again and to your right to
come into the Piazza della Signoria and its 40.Palazzo del Popolo, now called the
Palazzo Vecchio, following the Medici's construction of the
Uffizi, the Corridoio Vasariano, the Palazzo Pitti. If you visit
the Uffizi Gallery you will see the early gold-leafed paintings
of Dante's era, once in the churches for all the people but now
commercialized for tourists. But not even the Palazzo Vecchio
was built yet before Dante's exile.
Palazzo del Popolo, now called the Palazzo Vecchio, was
originally the site of the church of San Piero Schieraggio, as
it was the custom in Florence to sign Peace Treaties such as
that Brunetto Latino wrote
between Siena and Florence in 1254,
reading these in such churches and signing them in the presence
of the populace to the ringing of the bells, having churches be
also political places. In wartime such documents would be read
on the field to the sound of trumpets instead.
Map 2D, Parrini
III, Tassinari III.
In PALAZZO VECCHIO, in the first courtyard. Farinata degli Uberti, though Ghibelline, counsels
against the Sienese destroying Florence and her Palazzo della
Podestà (Baargello) after the Battle of Montaperti. His daughter
Beatrice will be married to Cavalcanti's son, Guido, at the Peace
of Cardinal Latino, made between the Guelf and Ghibelline families
so they could take common cause against the tyranny of King
Charles of Anjou. Oral reading 12 ♫
FV'IO SOL COLÀ DOVE SOFFERTO FV PER CIASCVN DI TORRE VIA FIORENZA COLVI CHE LA DIFESI A VISO APERTO.
But then I was alone, where every one
Consented to the laying waste of Florence,
He who defended her with open face.
VID'IO FIORENZA IN SÌ FATTO RIPOSO CHE NON AVEA CAGIONE ONDE
PIANGESSE; CON QVESTE GENTI VID'IO GLORIOSO E GIVSTO IL POPOL SUO, TANTO CHE
IL GIGLIO NON ERA AD ASTA MAI POSTO A
RITROSO NE' PER DIVISION FATTO VERMIGLIO.
Florence behold I in so great repose
That no occasion had she whence to weep
With all these families beheld so just
And glorious her people, that the lily
Not by division was vermilion made
While Borgo dei Greci angles off from the 40.
Palazzo della Signoria, the Palazzo
41.Map 2D, Parrini
XXIII, Tassinari XXIII.
In Borgo dei Greci, 29, where there had been a small gate in the
first city wall. This was the quarter where the Greek Orthodox
delegates to Florence's Renaissance Ecumenical Council were
lodged. For their portraits see the Benozzo Gozzoli frescoes in
the later Medici Palace's chapel. Oral reading 11 ♫
NEL PICCIOL CERCHIO S'ENTRAVA PER PORTA
CHE SI NOMAVA DA QVE' DELLA PERA.
One entered the small circuit by a gate
Which from the Della Pera took its name.
42. You can continue down the Borgo dei
Greci coming out into the Piazza Santa Croce and its great
Franciscan church, begun in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio. Dante
studied here and at Santa Maria Novella, from the Franciscans
and the Dominicans, following Beatrice's death. But there was
considerable tension at Santa Croce, for instance, from Pierre
Jean Olivi and Ubertino da Casale, both Spirituals, present
there, 1287-1289, against the Conventuals' Papal building
campaigns as not in line with Francescan poverty. Both the
statue of Dante outside and its cenotaph to Dante inside to the
right, were created during the Risorgimento's movement to unify
Italy from its numerous medieval city states in the nineteenth
century. Dante is instead buried in Ravenna, again with the
Franciscans, his daughter Antonia there becoming a Clarissan nun
and taking the name of Beatrice, 30. Orsanmichele's Compagnia dei laudesi sent Boccaccio
to her with the gift of ten gold florins. Instead, Francesco da Barberino,
Dante's fellow student, is truly buried here, from dying of
the plague at 84 in 1348, having just finished his final copy
of the Commedia, he being Brunetto's and Dante's
Florentine publisher, following his return from exile. It is
Boccaccio who writes the epitaph for his tomb. Guido Cavalcanti had already died and
been buried in Santa Reparata in 1300. Every year
representatives of the Comuni of Florence and Ravenna and of the Società Dantesca Italiana process with the Gonfalone of Justice from the 40.
Palazzo Vecchio to the 25.
Dante House and to Santa Croce in
honour of Dante.
From Santa Croce you can turn to the right past
the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, with its many Brunetto and Dante
manuscripts and go along the Arno, coming to the Zecca.
43.Tassinari XI. Beyond
map. In Piazza Piave on the Arno, on the tower of the old ZECCA
where Florence's florin was minted. Europe's first euro. Oral
reading 10 ♫
PER MEZZA TOSCANA SI SPAZIA
UN FIUMICEL CHE NASCE IN FALTERONA,
E CENTO MIGLIA DI CORSO NOL SAZIA
Through the midst of Tuscany there spreads a stream Through
which rises in Falterone and a courseof a hundred miles satiates
The two churches, Santa Maria Novella by the station for the
Dominicans, Santa Croce for the Franciscans, where Dante would
have heard lectures on theology were outside the city walls..
The city walls and the great city gates, built from the stones of
the levelled towers of pride of the Ghibellines, were mostly torn
down by the architect Giuseppe Poggi to make Florence like Paris
with boulevards, the Viale, at the Risorgimento when Florence
became capital of Italy. Still extant are Porta Romana, Porta
Frediano (Oltrarno), Porta di Prato, Porta San Gallo, Porta
Beccaria (where executions were carried out from that of San
Miniato on, until Cesare Beccaria's book against capital
punishment as cruel and unusual caused Tuscany to abolish thew
death penalty in 1786.
John Brett, Aurora Leigh, Victorian Cityscape of Florence
The medieval walls and gates, constructed by Arnolfo di Cambio,
surrounding Florence like a great crown, were torn down when
Florence briefly became capital of Italy by the architect Giuseppe
45. The Porta a Pinti gate, through which Corso Donati had returned from exile to
wreak vengeance on White Guelfs, among them, Dante, had the stemma
of the city, the lily and the cross, sculpted by him. At its
destruction these were placed by Giuseppe Poggi on the wall of the
English Cemetery in Piazzale Donatello. The lily is actually the wild Florentine iris,
which we have now planted in profusion throughout the cemetery
demarking its paths. Lord Leighton, William Holman Hunt and
others sculpt it on many of our tombs.
Recapitulation of Suggestions for Exploring the Florence of Dante
The San Zenobio Cross, Baptistery, Duomo, Giotto Tower, Bigallo, Misericordia,
Opera del Duomo Museum, all cluster together in the Piazza San
The Oblate Library, formerly where women lived who dedicated their
lives to nursing the sick and dying in Santa
Maria Nuova Hospital, the order begun by Beatrice's nurse,
Monna Tessa. Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, begun
by Dante's Beatrice's father, Folco
Portinari, and still in use seven hundred years later.
The Bargello, which held the Libro
del Chiodo, in which Dante was condemned to exile and death
three times, and has Dante's portrait by Giotto's school.
The 23. Torre della Castagna
where Brunetto Latino, earlier, and
Dante Alighieri (15 June-15 August 1300) lived for two months as
Priors of the City, Dante sharing in the condemnation of feuding Corso Donati and Guido
Cavalcanti to exile, which would kill his great friend that
The Museo Casa di Dante (built in the
twentieth-century, next to the real 25. Dante house) and the
Penello Restaurant next door (real). Both visitable, the second
for a meal with Tuscan food. 30. Orsanmichele, the church
cum granary below, entered by the door opposite the Arte della
Lana, then cross over to the Arte della Lana, climb its stairs to
come out onto the bridge over to the second floor of 30. Orsanmichele with the original
sculptures, then go up to the third floor with its superb view of
Florence and perfect acoustics.
The Museo of the Palazzo Davanzati: A beautiful palace of the
thirteenth century, complete with plumbing and toilets, much loved
by school children. Chiaro Davanzati was a poet colleague of
Dante's teacher, Brunetto Latino. Visitable.
The Palazzo Vecchio, then the
Palazzo del Popolo, the People's Palace, used by the comunal
republican government with the five hundred and the two hundred
assembled citizens .Visitable.
The Ponte Vecchio, the Ponte Carraia
and the Ponte delle Grazie having existed in earlier forms
The two churches, Santa Maria Novella by the station for the
Dominicans, Santa Croce for the Franciscans, where Dante would
have heard lectures on theology. Visitable.
The great city gates, Porta Romana, Porta Frediano, Oltrarno,
Porta di Prato, Porta San Gallo, Porta Beccaria (where executions
were carried out from that of San Miniato on, until Cesare
Beccaria's book against capital punishment as cruel and unusual
caused Tuscany to abolish its practice.
In the city centre keep looking up to find the Ghibelline towers,
which the Guelphs lowered, using their pietra forte
stones, quarried first from what is now the Boboli Gardens, for
building the great city walls for the common defense instead of
internal gang warfare between noble families where the streets had
run with blood. The rings you see on walls are for tethering
horses and for holding torches for street lighting. Street
lighting was also provided by the many frescoed tabernacles with
the Madonna and Child and Saints you will see at street corners.
In the documents in the archives of Dante's time we do not find
the Medici, who were Renaissance newcomers to the city already
great from Dante's poetry, Giotto's art, Arnolfo's sculpture and
architecture. The Medici mainly built palaces and villas for
themselves rather than for the people, taking over control of a
city that prided itself as a great Republic. Macchiavelli writes The
Prince as satire, from the Biblical 'Put not your trust in
princes' (Psalm 146.3), and notes in the text that once a people
have known liberty they will never acquiesce to a tyrant..
di Serego Alighieri, The Sun and the Other Stars of
Dante Alighieri: A Cosmographic Journey Through the Divina
World Scientific, 2022.
Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Reg. 43 olim XLIV/XLVI, fols.
(Genova XL, Biblioteca Universitaria Cod. A; Archivio di Stato di
Genova, Cod. C, ecc.). Firenze blocca le derrate alimentari a Pisa
Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Libro di testamenti di Or San
Michele (alluvionato, 1966)
Archivio di Stato di Firenze. Il Libro del Chiodo. A cura
di Francesca Klein. Firenze: Edizioni Polistampa, 2004.
Piero Bargellini. A Firenze con Dante. Firenze: Giunti,
Cyrilla Barr, The Monophonic Lauda and the Lay Religious
Confraternities of Tuscany and Umbria in the Late Middle Ages
(Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute, 1988)
Christian Bec, Les Marchands ecrivains à Florence, 1375-1434
(Paris: Plon, 1967)
Ursula Betka, 'Marian Images and Laudesi Devotion in Late Medieval
Italy, ca. 1260-1350'. University of Melbourne Thesis, 2001
Biblioteca Laurenziana, LXI. 13, Lapo da Castiglionchio, cronaca
inedita di Firenze e della sua famiglia
Biblioteca Nazionale, Palatina 168, Lauda di 'Maestro latino'
Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. Trans. G.H.M.
Williams. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.
James A. Bradbourne. Passaporto, Sulle Tracce di Dante in
Toscana/Passport, In the Footsteps of Dante in Tuscany.
Elisa Brilli, Giorgio Inglese, Jean-Claude Maire Vigueur, Nicolò
Maldina, Lorenzo Tanzini, Mirko Tavoni, “Dante Attraverso i
documenti: una discussione tra storici e italianisti", Reti
Medievali Rivista, 15.2 (2014).
Robert Davidsohn. Storia di Firenze. Firenze: Sansoni,
1960. VIII vols. Della Casa di Dante: Relazione con Documenti al
Consiglio Generale del Comunie di Firenze. Firenze: Le
Richard Mac Cracken. The Dedication Inscription of the Palazzo
del Podestà in Florence. Firenze: Leo Olschki Editore, 2001 Janis Elliott.
"The Judgement of the Commune The Frescoes of the Magdalen
Chapel in Florence,"" Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte
(61 Bd, H. 4, 1998) 509–519. I Giannini e l'arte del libro a Firenze, 1856-1980.
Firenze: Giulio Giannini e Figlio editori, 1856.
Julia Bolton Holloway, Twice-Told Tales: Brunetto Latino and
Dante Alighieri. Bern: Peter Lang, 1993.
_______. Un veritada ascosa sotto belle menzogna: San
Miniato, San Mina, Sant'Albano e San Dionigio". De strata
francigena XXVI/2 (2018), 9-33. Le Lapidi dantesche di Firenze. Firenze: La
Foresto Nicolai, The Dante Plaques: A Florentine Itinerar from the
Divine Comedy, trans. Mark Roberts; Firenze: Coppini Tipografia,
Amerigo Parrini. Le Epigrafi dantesche di Firenze.
Firenze: Giulio Giannini, 1928.
Amerigo Parrini. With Dante in Florence. Trans. C. Danyell
Tassinari. Firenze: Giulio Giannini, 1930-IX.
Renato Stopani. Firenze prima di Arnolfo: Città e architettura
dall'XI secolo alla metà del Dugento. Firenze: Centro Studi
Giovanni Villani, Cronica di Giovanni Villani. Roma:
Multigrafica Editrice, 1980.
Highly Recommended are visits to the 32. Davanzati Palace
where one can envision what it was like to live in Dante's era
(Chiaro Davanzati preceded Dante as a lyric poet writing in
Italian), the Opera Santa Maria del Fioremuseum, the 20.
Bargello museum, 30. Orsanmichele, the 40. Palazzo
Vecchio, La Musica della Commedia dell'Ensemble San
Felice di Federigo Bardazzi e Marco Di Manno
Dante's Commedia at http//www.florin.ms/Dantevivo.html
of which this is a part,
and also the Museo Zeffirelli in Piazza San Firenze for its
animated Inferno, and to have lunch or dinner at
the trattoria, Il Pennello, the true 25. Dante house, and a
coffee at the 17. Palazzo Portinari-Salviati.
With thanks to Maria Novella Fioretta Pucci, Giacomo Pucci,
Eugenio Giani, Richard Mac Cracken, Alberto Casciani,
Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu, Giuliano Benvenuti and the Biblioteca
del Capitolo Metropolitano Fiorentino, Enrico Giannini, Renato
Stopani, Massimo Tosi, Assunta D'Aloi, Domenico Savini, Spencer
Abruzzese, Paolo Ciampi. Could the gentle reader request that the
Comune of Florence clean and repair the Dante plaques and the
bronze bust of Dante on the Museo Casa di Dante, and could you
consider contributing financially to these tasks of preserving
history and literature in marble and bronze?