For the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death this special monographic volume of “Testimonianze” is dedicated to the Florentine Poet and to his great poetical topics. Although the review is not a purely literary one, it has nonetheless a strong humanistic background. It can therefore analyse Dante Alighieri’s poetry with its own peculiar features. The manifold contributions to this volume focus on the life and on the main topics of Alighieri’s poetry without leaving behind his works, which make him “a poet of the world”. This volume regards for instance: Florence as a symbolic city standing out in the great poet’s troubled biography, Dante Alighieri’s relationship with Verona and Romagna, the topic of the exile (already examined in our volume dedicated to the “Personalities of the exile”) and the “planetary” relevance of his message, the symbolic content of which, played a meaningful role for several cultural and literary traditions (let’s think about the great Russian and Latin American literatures). The importance of Dante Alighieri’s poetry can be inferred by the manifold translations of his works all over the world. 


Abstracts of the articles from the volume:

A Shock yet an Ointment for the Soul 

By Severino Saccardi

When talking about Dante, it is important to remember his Florentine and Italian origins. It is, however, important to remember the universality of his message, which has been understood and beloved all over the world thanks to the power of his words, the musicality of his poetry, the penetrating power of his topics and content. In spite of the cultural categories of the Middle Ages, Dante speaks to the sensitivity of our contemporary world, which is marked by conflicts and in need of spirituality and culture to overcome the solitude of our time and to look in a new, peaceful way at “the threshing-floor that maketh us so proud”

A Universal Voice Rooted in Tuscany

By Eugenio Giani

Dante feels Tuscan and Tuscany feels closely linked to the poet, who best represents it and, who is a heritage for the entire world. To celebrate the 700th anniversary of his death, the Region of Tuscany, albeit the restrictions due to the pandemic, has planned a series of initiatives involving the 101 Tuscan places mentioned in the Divine Comedy. It is a “widespread event” that has a message of rebirth and hope as well. 

Poetry that Can Be an Act of Faith 

By Dario Nardella

The Divine Comedy is a lofty and noble eulogy of reason, free will and thirst towards an absolute dimension. It is an act of faith in humanity and shows us the profound crisis of the individual, as well as the courage no to give up. Dante shows us a path, which consists in looking for a meaning and a possibility of elevation. It is a research concerning the individual and the entire human community. 

A Territory, Where It is Always “The Day of the Poet” 

By Piero Meucci e Cristina Giachi

Cristina Giachi, who is president of the Cultural Commission at the Regional Council of Tuscany and vice-president of the Committee for Dante Alighieri’s celebrations, explains the goals and stages of the initiatives for the 700th anniversary of Alighieri’s death, with the help of the President Eugenio Giani. Together with the promotion of scientific debates, the explanation aims at involving schools and at confirming a certain “familiarity” of the citizens with the figure of the great poet.


Why is Dante Alighieri still So Meaningful to Us

Dante Alighieri: Out-Dated yet Relevant 

By Sergio Givone a colloquio con Severino Saccardi

Dante Alighieri’s poetry could be defined as an out-dated yet relevant one. He is clearly a man of his time, but the international publications and the positive reviews reminds us of a powerful message and a voice, which are authentically human. The dimension that he brings to life (brings to eternal life indeed) in the Divine Comedy is as human, as it is authentically divine. 

With Dante Alighieri Beyond Time: A Bridge Towards the Eternity 

By Massimo Seriacopi

The Divine Comedy is a powerful poetic synthesis of Dante Alighieri’s era. It is also a profound work of observation and description of the human being, of its essence, fragilities, responsibilities and spiritual components. All those features make the work comprehensible also for modern readers, thus projecting us into a universal dimension. 

The Cultural Heritage of Dante Alighieri in the Era of the Planetary Human 

By Franco Toscani

The topic of pride that can be found several times in the Divine Comedy, is here analysed with a certain regard in some cantos of the Purgatory. In this canto Dante particularly insists on the vanity of human pride, which make us loose the sense of equality and fraternity. His position on issues of justice and violence could make us consider him a precursor of a certain culture of peace, which according to Ernesto Balducci should be the foundation of a new planetary ethic. 

Thirst of Universality

By Anita Norcini Tosi

The “surest” sign of our humanity is the thirst of universality and the point, at which Dante’s humanity mostly expresses itself, is, when he evokes a communion of souls harmonically recognising themselves part of the unity, part of a Being. It is a harmony, to which the Divine comedy (which is an “ontological” poem) gives voice in an incomparable way: it outlines a path that make us glimpse the Beauty of Glory and the “splendour” of a divine reality. 

Poetry, No Theology: The Outmost Topics According to Dante Alighieri 

By Andrea Bigalli

Dante Alighieri did not want to write a theological poem for sure. Nevertheless, he has certain cognitive instruments to do so. His creative “fictional” work on the great topic of the “post mortem”, which is so difficult to deal with for both theology and the common feeling of our time, is framed by medieval categories. He translates this content of faith, which is filtered by a collective feeling based on a series of visual images, into a narration full of poetic symbols with admirable ability.

Dante Alighieri’s Heritage and the Italy that we Want 

By Valdo Spini

When was the concept of “Italy” born? To answer this question, it is necessary to go a long way back and, without taking into account the administrative definitions. This way, we can consider a certain concept of Italy, which is ideal and cultural rather than political, as the “Risorgimento” suggested. It is of course a complex issue discussed during the commemoration promoted by AICI (“Associazione delle Istituzioni Culturali Italiane”) and “Accademia della Crusca” for the 700th anniversary of Alighieri’s death.

Researching Dante Alighieri’s  Life Letting Alone his Verses? 

By Alessandro Andreini

Is it possible to ignore Dante’s poems, in case we wanted to reconstruct his life? There is a circularity between the life he lived and the version the author himself gives in the Divine Comedy, which makes a biographical reconstruction of his religiousness and his relationship with his time quite challenging. The boundary between the man and the work is always an extremely delicate issue that can never be perfectly identifiable, specifically for a man and a work of the Middle Ages. 

Eliot’s Advice for Reading Dante Alighieri 

By Roberto Barzanti

The anniversary of Dante’s death makes us reflect on the best way to pay homage to the “Supreme Poet”. Over the years, there have been several interpretations of his work, from scholarly ones to more popular ones. In such a variegated landscape (which has both good and questionable aspects), while reading the Divine Comedy we should get rid of ideologies as well as an exasperated historicism. We ought to study and enjoy his poetry and, as T. S. Eliot suggests, we ought to leave “both belief and lack of belief”. 

What If One Met Dante Alighieri at School 

By Duccio Sartini e Sofia Silei (Students of the Liceo scientifico «E. Balducci» in Pontassieve), coordinated by their teacher Simona Giani.

It is not easy to teach Dante at school, due to the complexity of the subject and the consistent critical apparatus accompanying it. Nonetheless, it is important to involve the young readers and to address the meaningful and typical topics of the Divine Comedy, which still deeply concern today’s youngsters. 

Dante Alighieri is not just a Pop Icon 

By Giulio Ferroni (interviewed by Dario Ceccherini and Severino Saccardi)

This is an interview with Giulio Ferroni, who published in 2019 “L’Italia di Dante, Viaggio nel Paese della Commedia”. His work is a map of Italy and retraces the places named in Dante’s works. Certain recurring topics (in spite of the historical changes) are addressed at the commemoration of the poet’s anniversary. Such topics are: his relationship with Florence, his “Italianness”, the universality of his poetry and the relationship with our present time. This last one, makes him almost a pop icon, as it witnesses his enduring presence in our collective imagination. 


Poetry, Topics, Places

“So That the Sixth Was I”

By Stefano Carrai

Among the poets of Classicism (who are, he believes, his masters), Dante considers himself the sixth one (“So That the Sixth Was I”). Those 6 poets were: Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Horace and Lucan. Some researchers have interpreted the Divine Comedy’s explicit and implicit classical references a foreshadow of the Humanist culture. However, Dante filtered Latin sources with a medieval mindset. He therefore aims at showing the legacy of the ancients with his Christian world. This also makes us understand the meaning of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, to which the poet seems to refer during his otherworldly journey but, from which he departs through a rewriting process from a Christian viewpoint. 

“The prints of his beloved Feet”: Dante, Virgil and Statius between Earth and Heaven 

By Alessandro Fo

This article analyses the meeting between poets (Purgatory cantos XXI e XXII). They recognise each other and declare their love and esteem to each other. Dante and Virgil meet Statius’ soul at the extraordinary moment, in which (once finished its journey in the Purgatory) it has just been freed. Statius’ soul is recognized, when it hugs the feet and hence pays homage to Virgil. The soul recognizes the power of his great poetry, which both creates admirable and glorious things and fosters spiritual salvation, through a series of references ranging from the Aeneid, to the Thebaid, to the Apocalypse

“Light has been given you for good and evil”

By Simone Barlettai

Dante Alighieri deals with the topic of free will at various points of the Divine Comedy. It happens when he meets the soul of Marco Lombardo in the XVI canto of the Purgatory. He asks him to solve an afflicting doubt to him, which is the influence of the “Heaven” on human actions. For Lombardo, men blame for everything the Heaven, thus fleeing from the question concerning the choice between good and evil. This freedom is severely tested by the lack of guides or more specifically of a “king” setting us on the correct path to follow. Nonetheless, this path can lead to the good with the help of commitment and of the individual effort. 

A great Poet, a Mere Mortal 

By Sauro Albisani

Can we judge Dante Alighieri, by forgetting for a while the “idolatry” (that is to say the, albeit understandable, individual and universal awe) we have for him, because of his unquestionable poetic value? In order to escape from such an awe (not without a certain embarrassment), we ought to try to consider him as an ordinary mortal by “calling him by his name”. We should even point out that he sinned in his pride, because he judged as if he “did God’s bidding”. The intention is certainly not to diminish his greatness but rather to bring to light his humanness and his contradictory aspects, which are perhaps the most authentic features of him. 

The “Jewish Question” in Dante Alighieri

By Lorenzo Bastida

Dante has periodically been accused of anti-Semitism. This is, however, a naïve and anachronistic interpretation (which is often present in the enjoyment of any literary work, crossing the narrow temporal limits) that has to be analysed. Without going back over both the long debate on the influence of the Jewish culture on Alighieri’s work and the relevance of the biblical archetypes of the Jewish identity in his works, should be underlined. We ought to highlight the fact that the damned in Hell expiate their sins, which are their own mistakes, not because of their cultural identity and this principle might also be beneficial in our time. 

Dante, Francesca and the Never-Ending Pain of the Victims of Feminicide

By Marina Calloni

The Divine Comedy helps us understanding better the roots of human violence, as it shows the core of passions. Francesca, who is an indelible figure in Dante’s poetry, is both a sinner deserving hell and a victim of male violence. She shows the ambivalence of Dante’s cultural vision, who according to the morality of his time, is empathetically sensitive towards the reasons of the victim. With no wishes to update Dante at all costs, the famous episode from the Inferno helps us meditate on today’s sad reality regarding feminicide. 

My Name is Francesca 

By Sara Mugnaini

It is Francesca, who asks through an imaginary monologue certain questions to the women of her time and to those of our time. Her memories mix up with her meditations and curiosities towards her contemporary world, in which things have of course changed but, in which women are, however traded as goods and could end up, as she did, killed within the walls of her home. Perhaps it might be better not to answer the questions asked by Francesca, in order not to disappoint her. 

The Divine Comedy: A Powerful Metaphor 

By Marco Salucci

How can we get to know abstract concepts? Metaphors make us understand them. They are therefore a true form of knowledge. In the Divine Comedy there is a massive use of metaphors (about three thousand) and the work itself is great a metaphor of a moral and cognitive journey. Metaphors make the world more intelligible to us and guarantee thus the intelligibility of the otherworldly dimension, which goes beyond the temporal and spatial coordinates and, which marks his universal poetic message. 

The Divine Comedy and the “World of the Characters” 

By Marilena Pasquali

The relationship between the Divine Comedy and the visual arts is reciprocal and exchangeable. Dante looked with genuine curiosity at the art of his time and of the previous decades and he used it as a raw material for his otherworldly representations. His relationship with Cimabue and Giotto, to whom he was bound by a certain affinity of thought, culture and sensitivity, is significant. From the Great Poet and his works many other artists (in different periods and using different styles) take their cue and share (like him) a certain search for an absolute dimension, which is reflected on earth through manifold creative expressions using different forms. 

Why did not the “Supreme Poet ”Write in Latin?

By Concetta Bianca

The memory of a seminary in Pavia with students of Humanistic literature, gives the opportunity to talk about the Florentine Humanistic culture that (even before its birth, propitiated by the arrival in Florence of the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysolora, who was invited to teach Greek history and language at the end of the 14th century) had been able to benefit from the contributions of three eminent “Florentine crowns”: Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. However, Latin was still in the 15th century the language of thescholars and Dante, who had become the most prestigious “banner” of the Florentine culture, was indeed reproached for the Vernacular he used in the Divine Comedy.

“Possunt Etiam Non Gramatici Informari”: Public and Popular Uses of Dante Alighieri 

By Paolo De Simonis

Dante has immediately become well-known in his time, in spite of the debates concerning the “lofty” or the “popular” fruition. Then in the following centuries (up to our present day) we celebrate his figure not only for certain anniversaries, but also permanently. He has become a staple in our culture. There is a wide range of nuances between the Dante “researched” by scholars and the “pop” Dante of the mass culture, which shows how and how much his presence and the significance of his message are still alive. 

Dante Alighieri’s Maremma 

By Lucio Niccolai

Dante mentions the “Maremma” region in the Inferno and in the Purgatory, but not in the Paradise. He wants to give specific geographical references and hence evokes its wild and impervious nature. Dante and his descriptions of “Maremma” have inspired a rich popular tradition that has come down to us. He does a journey through the places mentioned in the poem and we ought to travel through them once again in a more literary (rather than real) way, as that territory has dramatically changed. 

A “hydrographic” Interpretation of the Divine Comedy 

By Giorgio Valentino Federici

How should a hydraulic engineer approach the Divine Comedy? By discovering the hydrographic references Dante makes of course. He draws his own “infernal hydrography” based on the knowledge of his time and on the descriptions of those places and watercourses. There are also references to the climate and to the complex problem of flooding: It is interesting to read his references to the “Veneto” and “Flanders” floods, as he does not mention the several Arno floods in Florence (which also happened several times in Dante’s lifetime). 

Walking through Dante Alighieri’s Streets

By Roberto Mosi

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Municipality of Florence decided to put up plaques with some tercets from the Divine Comedy to commemorate its most famous fellow citizen: Dante Alighieri. Those plaques were put in all significant places of his life. Today a group of friends, tries to give life to that ideal path by walking through the streets of the city, on one hand to rediscover those tercets, on the other also to pay homage to him by reading aloud the verses engraved on such plaques. 

That Ancient Bond 

By Evaristo Seghetta Andreoli

This is a tale about the ancient bond with the Divine Comedy. The author of this article learned it as a child, as if it were a game: he imitated in fact his high-school brother. He then studied the work himself and he encountered it along his life on workplaces, Dante was bound with, like Florence, Rome, Ravenna and Arezzo. At the end of the article, there are some verses dedicated to the poet. 

Romagna in Dante Alighieri’s Poems and Life 

By Manuela Racci

Dante’s Romagna is s territory that the poet knew well and, which like his native Tuscany, played a central role in his spiritual journey throughout the three realms beyond the world. It is a territory that has already appeared as a place dominated by the tyrants in Hell. It is a territory full of instincts and passion, which becomes then an Edenic place like an earthly Paradise, where the sacred forest (which is the “Pineta di Classe”) is described with amazement. It is moreover exactly in Romagna that the poet finds his final destination: it is a place for a sweet rest and in the end, it is going to mercifully welcome his body. 

Romagna According to Dante: Roberto Casadio’s Inferno 

Denio Derni

The reconstruction of Roberto Casadio’s work (he recently passed away) begins with the moving words of his wife Mimma Pressi. Casadio was the illustrator of Dante’s Inferno and his project of drawing Dante’s poem was born as a collaboration between him and Andrea Brigliadori, who is a passionate scholar of the Divine Comedy and the editor of the illustrated edition of the poem created by three artists from Forlì. 


Dantesque Echos

When Francesco da Buti Interpreted The Divine Comedy 

By Gabriele Parenti

Francesco da Buti lived and worked in Pisa, where he had carried out public tasks for the Republic of Pisa. He was also a recognised scholar. In history he has gone down as one of the first and most authoritative commentators on the Divine Comedy. He wrote his “Commento” after the success of his public reading of Dante’s poem at the University of Pisa in 1350, which was not printed until centuries later in 1858-1862 by Crescentino Giannini. 

More than a Hundred Years of Dante Alighieri’s Editing: D’Annunzio and the 1911 Version of The Divine Comedy 

By Cristiano Berolli

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, in 1911 the Florentine publisher Leo Samuel Olschki was about to print a monumental edition of the Divine Comedy. He entrusted the proem to Gabriele D’Annunzio, who (after many delays) delivers his work only a few days before the publication. On the occasion of the renewal of Dante’s anniversary, it is interesting to read once again some passages of that proem (which the author himself defines as “a crazy thing”) with the complete transcription of the autograph manuscript reconstructed by the scholar Laura Melosi.

Giorgio Caproni’s Verses: “Implicit” and “Explicit” Quotations of Dante 

By Rosalba de Filippis

Giorgio Caproni’s poetry is filled of Dante’s teachings. Certain expressions, which are clearly inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, as well as certain topics (The journey, the path, the forest) can be found here and there in Caproni’s poetic production. His writing is full of nostalgia, it is scattered with pitfalls, dead-end streets and evanescent boundaries, in which the rarefaction of the language can be found in our desolate mortifying and empty modern world. 

Following Dante Alighieri’s Path: Echo of a Universal Poetry 

By Rossella De Luca and Rocco De Leo

Dante’s poetry is still widely echoed in the works of other poets and of other populations, because of the universality of its human figures and the feelings evoked. T. S. Eliot, Caryl Phillips and Derek Walcott provide this evidence: Eliot underlines the importance of Dante for the roots of the European culture, Phillips, just like Dante, makes three journeys in search to an answer to the question “What constitutes ‘home’?” and Walcott, who shows his interest in Omeros for the cathartic process that leads from sin to salvation (rather than for the character). 

From Dante Alighieri to Dante Gabriel Rossetti

By Luisa Puttini

Dante’s work has had such an important influence on Anglo-Saxon culture. The poet inspired several artists over the time, who expressed Dante’s influence through several artistic forms ranging from poetry, to painting, to novel. The Divine Comedy translated several times into English, exerts a fascination on different authors for the strength of its transcendent and dreamlike dimension or for its evocative capacity in the poetical field (Milton, Blake, Yeats) or in other fields (like the amorous topic, which is represented by Rossetti). We also ought to remember the impact it had on Irish literature (Joyce) not only for its topics (let us mention Ulysses) but also for the stimulus for the modernisation of the language. 

When Gombrowicz Explicitly Criticized Dante Alighieri 

By Francesco M. Cataluccio

In 1968 Witold Gombrowicz wrote a provocative pamphlet (On Dante), which disturbed Giuseppe Ungaretti, who was annoyed by the Polish writer’s sarcastic and arrogant tone. The pamphlet does not, however, lack in brilliant insights. It was written without a certain referential fear towards one of the greatest poems of the world’s literature. It is a meditation on Evil and Sorrow, which engaged the Polish author in the last twenty years of his life. 

Dante Alighieri in Santa Lucia: Echos of the Purgatory in Walcott’s Omeros

By Pamela Beattie e Simona Bertacco

Numerous elements of contact emerge from a comparative analysis of Dante’s Divine Comedy(in particular of the Purgatory). This is very true if we compare his Purgatory with the work of the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott Omeros. In both poems the leitmotiv of salvation as a cure and as a structuring principle organises the whole narration, its characters, stories and places. The two poets move with confidence between the particular and the universal. They reveal hence an approach compatible with the public function of literature and more specifically of poetry. 

According to Borges: “The Highest Literary Point was reached by the Divine Comedy” 

By Ricardo Héctor Rabitti

Borges and Dante. The Argentine author frequently came in contact with the Florentine poet’s work. Borges is a reader, a constructor of conjectures and an expert admirer of the Divine Comedy, which he considers the pinnacle of literature and, to which he dedicates an essay and several conferences. It is an imperishable work, which, as the great Argentine writer did, we must analyse with more frequency, in order to discover our deepest identity. 

Who was (Who is) Gianni Schicchi? 

Daniel  Martínez Rubio

There is no doubt about the historical existence of Gianni Schicchi, who lived in 13th-century Florence and was regarded as a forger and a counterfeiter. The sin, for which he finds himself in Hell refers to a (may be real) episode, of which few documentary traces remain, but which was certainly present in people’s memory at Dante’s time. The character had a certain literary echo in the following centuries and then found its way into opera. As a matter of fact, Puccini closed his Trittico (first stage in 1918 New York) with the ”opera buffa” Gianni Schicchi, in which the character acquires a certain funny aspect under the indulgent gaze of both the author and of the public. 

Dante Alighieri and The Snow of the Ancient Times: The “Finnish Comedy”

By Lorenzo Amato

The Divine Comedy was translated into Finnish by Eino Leino. It was a challenging task, as the Finnish poet had to make a full immersion in Italy for a whole year. He translated the poem in loose endecasyllables and with content/stylistic solutions that would have been comprehensible in his homeland. With his Jumalainen näytelmä, Eino Leino contributed (with other translations of him of the European classics) to strengthen the national language by giving to it its literary dignity. 

Not Just Metaphysical Evil: Dante through the Eyes by Two Japanese Painters 

By Lorenzo Amato

This article concerns forbidden truths. It is a courageous guide along the paths of the Evil: Dante and the Divine Comedy can be found in the work of two Japanese painters Fukuzawa Ichiro (1898-1992) and Kazumasa Chiba (1967). Those two artists have chosen the great Florentine poet as a model of resistance to the Evil.

Due artisti che hanno scelto il grande poeta fiorentino come modello di resistenza ai mali del mondo.

Two Poets on the “Corpus” 

By Arben Dedja and Mihai Mircea Butcovan, edited by Mia Lecomte e Ugo Fracassa

The words of two poets, the Romanian poet Mihai Mircea Butcovan (Oradea, 1969) and the Albanian poet Arben Dedja (Tirana, 1964), we find their love for their mother tongue and for their home country, where they have come to live. They both encountered Dante in their own language and then they both translated the works of the Florentine poet. Dante is therefore an experience of translation. They are without any doubt not the only examples in this sense, as in the variegated panorama of Italian transnational poetry there are several poets, who come to terms in a direct or indirect way with the Divine Comedy. Those poets are all marked by political persecution, by the exile or (overall) by their background as migrant. It is exactly as Emil Cioran once said: “proscriptions have an undeniable spiritual advantages. What would Dante have been without the exile?”.

A Young Poetess, a Polyphonic Language and Dante Alighieri’s Lesson 

By Claudia Corti

In the variegated panorama of contemporary poetry, it is worth to note the voice of Giulia Martini, who represents an original case of legacy with Dante Alighieri. This young poetess was discovered in the ephemeral space of social networks. She stands out in the media chaos because of her extraordinary ability not to be forgotten. She nurtures curiosity, suggestions and is a real revelation in the world of Dante’s poetry.