On March 25th, 2021 Italy celebrates Dante 700 years after his death
Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) is the arguably most well known Italian literary of all time. In 2021, we celebrate 700 years since the poet’s passing, and all over Italy hundreds of cultural events are taking place in his honour.
Dante is known as the Father of the Italian Language and for his monumental work The Divine Comedy. In this trilogy he journeys through paradise, purgatory, and into the depths of hell (the inferno). The Divine Comedy, particularly the Inferno, has had a profound influence on western art since its release. It is largely considered one of the world’s greatest literary works.
Dante first began the trilogy in 1308. He wrote the 14,233 line epic in the Tuscan dialect rather than Latin. This made it accessible to more of the population. The Divine Comedy first went into print in April of 1472, at which time 300 copies were made, and 14 copies still exist to this day. It is a piece that has not lost its importance as time goes on, and remains the centerpiece of many of the celebrations planned through 2021.
How to Celebrate Dante in Rome
March 25th is the official Day of Dante in Italy, Dantedì (started in 2020). Many of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death circulate this date. Oscar-winning actor and director Roberto Benigni will recite a canto from The Divine Comedy at the Quirinale Palace. The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and the Prime Minister Mario Draghi will be in attendance. The performance will be streamed live on RAI1 at 19:15 GMT+1.
On March 25th, beginning at 13:00 there will be a reading at various sites throughout the city of Rome. The readings begin at 13:00 at Castel Sant’Angelo and finish at 17:00 at the Museo Hendrik Christian Andersen. You can find more details about the readings and locations at the facebook page here.
Where to Celebrate Dante in Other Italian Cities
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, at this time closed due to Covid-19, is hosting a virtual exhibition called “To See the Stars Again.” This exhibition features fragile drawings of scenes of The Divine Comedy. Further information is available here.
From the 7th April to the 15th July in the Milan Duomo, an event called “100 canti in 100 giorni” will take place. The event is a collaboration between the musicians of Teatro alla Scala and the students of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano.
One of the biggest and most ambitious exhibitions planned is Dante: The Vision of Art. This exhibition will be held in Forlì from the 12th March to the 4th July. It is subject to the restrictions related to Covid-19 in Italy.
In addition, Dante’s The Divine Comedy will be hitting the airwaves with verses being read each Monday at 11:00, 13:00, 16:00 and 18:00 on Radio Dante.
For more information about the 700th Anniversary celebrations of Dante, visit www.beniculturali.it
"Waiting to See the Stars"
Italy’s cultural minister Dario Franceschini made reference to the last verse of the Inferno when he said “We are all waiting to see the stars again” and reminded us of the importance of Dante’s legacy to Italy and Italians with the following words: “Dante reminds us of many things that hold us together: Dante is the unity of the country, Dante is the Italian Language, Dante is the very idea of Italy.”
In this particular moment in time while we sit in our homes waiting for restrictions to be lifted Dante’s words are more poignant than ever. “We are all waiting to see the stars again”.