After our Florence visit, we took a train to Ravenna, Italy. Our new tourist map noted the “Tomba Dante Alighieri”. What? Now we were confused.
So, where is the body? Florence or Ravenna?
We turned to Google to settle the matter, and it was quite an amazing story. Dante loved his hometown of Florence and became involved in politics. Unfortunately, he chose to support the losing side and made matters further worse for himself by proposing support for secular rule (a universal monarchy under the Holy Roman Emperor) rather than religious rule (under the Pope). He was sentenced to death and exiled from Florence. He left Florence. What choice did he have? He hoped Florence would relent and always expected to return.
In death, Florence had a change of heart and wanted its native son’s body to be returned. Ravenna declined and Dante was buried in Ravenna.
Two hundred years later, the pope ordered Dante’s remains to be returned to Florence. Florence sent a delegation to get the body, but the Franciscan friars in Ravenna stole his remains and hid the body in a false wall.
Over the years it seemed the secret of where the body was located may have been forgotten.
Florence built its tomb for Dante in the Basilica of Santa Croce in 1829, but Dante’s remains never left Ravenna. Florence’s tomb had become a cenotaph. In 2008 Florence officially apologized for its exile of Dante.