BACKSTREET FLORENCE: DANTE
Italy's most divine poet was born in 1265 in a wee house down a narrow lane in the backstreets of
Florence. Tragic romance was what made him tick and there's no better place to unravel the medieval
life and times of Dante than the Museo Casa di Dante MAP
055 21 94 16; Via
Santa Margherita 1; adult/reduced €4/2; 10am-5pm Tue-Sun).
When Dante was just 12 he was promised in marriage to Gemma Donati. But it was another
Florentine gal, Beatrice Portinari (1266-90), that was his muse, his inspiration, the love of his life
(despite only ever meeting her twice in his life): in Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) Dante broke
with tradition by using the familiar Italian, not the formal Latin, to describe travelling through the
circles of hell in search of his beloved Beatrice.
Beatrice, who wed a banker and died a couple of years later aged just 24, is buried in 11th-century
near Dante's house; note the wicker basket in front of her grave filled with scraps of paper on which
prayers and dedications evoking unrequited love have been penned. The tiny chapel was also where
the poet married Gemma in 1295. Dimly lit and atmospherically filled with soft classical background
music, it remains much as it was in medieval Florence. No wonder novelist Dan Brown chose it to set
a scene in his most recent Dante-themed thriller, Inferno (2013), that takes place in Florence.
Top off the old-world experience at neighbouring hole-in-the-wall Da Vinattieri ( Click here ) with a
tripe panino (sandwich) eaten squatting on a simple wooden stool on this old-fashioned alley in back-
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1 San Lorenzo
This is Medici territory - come here to see their palace, church, library and mausoleum,
all decorated with extraordinary works of art.