Events were held across Italy to commemorate the 700th birth anniversary of poet Dante Alighieri, whose “The Divine Comedy” is deemed the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.
More than 100 events were held on Thursday after March 25 was decreed as a National Day (“Dantedi”) last year, reports Xinhua news agency.
“His coherence must be a model for us,” President Sergio Mattarella said in an interview with the country’s leading daily Il Corriere della Sera.
“Although I’m not fully convinced of the opportunity to actualise historical figures and to compare the medieval country to what Italy is today, I think we must emphasize his (Dante’s) ability to transcend his own times and provide teachings that are forever valid,” he explained.
Mattarella said that Dante has been “a point of reference and a source of inspiration for generations of Italians, regardless of their specific situation across the different centuries and ages”.
Dante was a poet, a renowned scholar and a philosopher.
He was born in Florence in 1265. He is primarily known as the author of “The Divine Comedy”, an epic poem divided into three books of equal length and considered by critics and historians to be the pre-eminent work in Italian.
The largest celebrations on Thursday were held in Florence, Verona and Ravenna, the three Italian cities that hosted and protected Dante during his turbulent life.
Florence was his birthplace; in Verona, he stayed after fleeing Florence and that is where his descendants still live; and he spent his last years in Ravenna, where his tomb is also located.
In the city of Parma (Italy’s Capital of Culture in 2020-2021), a complete series of illustrations of “The Divine Comedy” was on display, and an exhibition in Forli brought together depictions of Dante’s image by ancient and modern artists.
All events on Thursday were restricted and many were held online due to the coronavirus measures currently in force in the country.
The celebrations will continue throughout the year with numerous conferences, lectures, readings and shows.