A Brief History of Museo Casa di Dante in Florence
What is Museo Casa di Dante?
Museo Casa di Dante is a well-curated museum that celebrates the life and genius of Florentine poet Dante Alighieri.
Museo Casa di Dante History
Let’s begin with a truth bomb: despite the name of this space, Dante’s actual house no longer exists. Still, many trustworthy sources report that the Alighieri family once resided in a building located between the church of San Martino and Piazza dei Donati. So, in the early 20th century, Florence’s public administration decided to build a house on the spot where Dante is generally believed to have been born.
Despite this nebulous tie to Dante’s actual home, the museum offers a wonderful insight into the life and genius of the ‘Supreme Poet’, from his early years up to the days when he’d become famous as the ‘founding father’ of the Italian language. The exhibits are divided between three floors to highlight different aspects of his life.
On the first floor, you’ll see a series of documents recording events from Dante’s youth: his christening in the Baptistery of Saint John (by the Duomo), his public and social life, his election to the office of town prior, and his participation in political and military affairs. A large-scale model of the Battle of Campaldino shows remarkable reproductions of weapons such as the 24-year-old Dante would have used to defend his hometown.
The second floor documents his expulsion from Florence in 1302 by the Black Guelphs, for political activities and support of the White Guelphs. This sentence of exile led him to stay in several other cities, including Bologna, Verona and Forlì, before deciding to spend his remaining years in Ravenna. On this floor you’ll find reminders of this painful part of the poet’s life, in handwritten letters, reproductions and objects that are believed to have belonged to him.
Finally, the third floor offers an extensive collection of documents, reproductions and paintings inspired by Dante’s legacy. You’ll find works by famous and lesser-known artists dating from just after his time up to the present day. Particularly interesting are the painted reproductions of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise as Dante masterfully described them in his Divine Comedy.
After finishing your visit, if you want to continue tracing the poet’s history, pay a visit to Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi, just a few steps away from Dante’s House. This church is believed to be the place where Dante married Gemma Donati as well as being associated with his muse, Beatrice Portinari.
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