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Dante’s Romagna

Dante Alighieri died in 1321 in Ravenna, the city where I was born and grew up. I designed this Dante tour in Emilia Romagna to rediscover his places in Divine Comedy style. We will discover medieval cities and idyllic countryside while learning about the Poet and sampling local foods.

Forlì-Cesena, Emilia Romagna - Your True Italy

Trip in a nutshell

  • Ideal for: history buffs, art lovers, family, nature lovers
  • Highlights: exhibition “Dante, the Vision of Art”, looking out from “The Balcony of Romagna”, discovering “the Little Venice”
  • What you will learn: Dante’s story in the places he lived
  • Length: 3 days, 2 nights
  • Starts from Forlì and ends in Pomposa (Ferrara)
  • Transportation: self-drive or car and driver
  • Accommodation and meals: hotels or B&Bs; typical meals at the farm or in traditional restaurants
  • Price: starting from €1000 per person (based on a group of 4 people).

DESCRIPTION OF TOUR

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265. He created the so-called “Dolce Stil Novo” (Sweet New Style), a new style of writing that transcended the Latin language. In fact, Dante used a new form of language, the Italian Vernacular, which is easier to understand. For this reason, Dante is referred to as “the father of the Italian language”.

At that time Florence and the whole of Italy were divided by political struggles between rival families. The ancient rivalry between the Guelphs and Ghibellines had ended with the victory of the Guelphs. Unfortunately, after a short time, the battle started all over again. Dante belonged to the White Guelphs faction, and when Florence was seized by the Blacks, he was forced into exile. He then embarked on a long journey that would last for the rest of his life.

Dante died in 1321 in Ravenna, the city where I grew up. In school, I have always loved to study Divine Comedy. What has always intrigued me is that there are many references to the places the Supreme Poet visited during his exile in my homeland.

Therefore the itinerary I have designed is a rediscovery of these places, including history, culture, art, and hospitality: in Divine Comedy style, we will travel through this territory through Dante’s eyes.

DAY 1

DAY 1 Between culture and food&wine, with a view

Morning – A very special exhibition in San Domenico Museums

This Dante tour in Emilia Romagna starts in Forlì. First, we will visit the San Domenico Museums exhibition celebrating the seven hundredth anniversary of the Poet’s death (1321-2021). In fact, Dante found refuge in the city at the very beginning of his exile when, after leaving Arezzo, he stayed with the Ordelaffi family. He returned to Forlì afterward, and there are many references to this area in the Divine Comedy (San Benedetto in Alpe, Castrocaro Terme). The exhibition “Dante, the Vision of Art” is a journey through the history of art spanning from the thirteenth to the twentieth century.

Through 300 masterpieces, from Giotto to Michelangelo and up to modern Boccioni and Casorati, the aim is to explore the intimate relationship between Dante and art. Finally, the collection also includes medieval illuminated manuscripts and the first editions of the Commedia.

 

Afternoon – On the Balcony of Romagna

We will then continue onto Bertinoro, a pretty village in the hills. Dante mentions it in canto XIV of the Purgatory. For those who come from the plains of Ravenna, as I do, it is the first hill you can get to. For this reason, every time I want to escape the heat, I drive up to Bertinoro. There are many reasons to visit this town. First of all, it is nicknamed “The Balcony of Romagna” because from up there you have a spectacular view of the plain and the sea. Secondly the cobbled streets and finally the ancient parish church of Polenta where the Poet has prayed.

Another option for the afternoon is Forlimpopoli, the village where Pellegrino Artusi was born. In the same way that Dante is the father of the Italian language, Artusi can be described as the father of modern Italian cuisine. His famous book, ‘Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well’ is the first genuine gastronomic cookbook of Italy.  Published in 1891, it remains a chef’s reference point.

The Casa Artusi foundation is the center of gastronomic culture that embodies the legacy of Pellegrino Artusi.

DAY 2

DAY 2 In my hometown Ravenna, Dante’s last refuge

Morning – Discovering Ravenna and Classe

The second day is entirely dedicated to Ravenna. Here Dante found his last refuge in 1318 after almost twenty years of exile. He enjoyed his stay in this hospitable city so much that he reunited his whole family here. In particular, his sons Pietro and Jacopo and his daughter Antonia. Antonia then took cloistered vows and became Sister Beatrice.

The history of Ravenna started in 27 B.C. when the Roman Emperor Octavian built a military port. In fact, he planned to control the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The settlement site is today’s Classe, a name derived from the Latin Classis, meaning fleet. In 402 A.D. Honorius established Ravenna as the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Later on, Ravenna was conquered and ruled by a barbarian, Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. Finally, the city passed under Byzantine rule.  For this reason, we can admire splendid basilicas decorated with precious mosaics. Luckily,  these mosaics have been preserved over the centuries and are now protected by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

When Dante arrived in Ravenna he had just finished Purgatory and he was beginning the drafting of Paradise. These golden mosaics, rich in symbolism and sacred images, were certainly of inspiration in the Divine Comedy.

Afternoon – Excursion to the Pineta di Classe

In Ravenna, we will visit the UNESCO monuments: the Church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of San Vitale, and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Our Dante tour in Emilia Romagna will then continue to the Pineta. Dante referred to the Pineta di Classe as a “thick, living forest”. So, are you ready to take a pleasant walk?

DAY 3

DAY 3 Nature and hidden gems in the surroundings

Morning – Venturing into the Comacchio Valleys

In the Comacchio Valleys, you will see what the coastal territory was like during the Roman era. In fact, this patch of land mixed with water is part of the Po Delta Park. The park, together with the historic centre of the city of Ferrara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Comacchio is called “the little Venice” because it looks like a dense maze of canals, with small bridges connecting the different corners of the town. Among its most famous monuments is the unmistakable Trepponti, a bridge with an imposing stairway. We will then visit the seventeenth-century Cathedral of San Cassiano, the elegant Bellini Palace and the distinctive Manifattura dei Marinati. This is an old factory used for cooking and marinating eels. In fact, eels are the local speciality… some people are crazy about it, but I personally have always found it a little too tasty for my liking.

 

Afternoon – The Dante tour in Emilia Romagna ends in Pomposa Abbey

To conclude Dante’s itinerary, it is worth visiting the imposing Pomposa Abbey in the Codigoro district, mentioned in Paradise. This Abbey was founded in the 7th century. In fact, some Benedictine monks settled on what was once an island between two branches of the Po in the middle of an enormous lagoon. In the Middle Ages, Pomposa became one of the most powerful abbeys in northern Italy.

Dante stayed in Pomposa during his travels between Ravenna and Venice. Here he was able to admire the fourteenth-century frescoes of the Last Judgement and the floor mosaics, which may have inspired the powerful literary images of his Comedy. Furthermore,  it was here that Dante contracted malaria that proved to be fatal. According to legend, twenty days before his death Dante was in Pomposa. His latest texts were written here and they were secretly recovered a year later by his son Jacopo.

The point of interest

The program in details – Dante tour in Emilia Romagna

This is an approximate schedule, exact times will be finalized and they might change during the trip.
– Day 1: Between culture and food&wine, with a view
  • 10 am meet in Forlì and visit San Domenico Museums
  • 12 transfer to Bertinoro
  • 1 pm lunch in Bertinoro
  • 2,00 -3,00 pm visit Bertinoro
  • 4,30 pm  arrive in Forlimpopoli, visit Casa Artusi foundation
  • 7,30 pm check-in
  • 8,30 pm dinner

 

– Day 2: In my hometown Ravenna, Dante’s last refuge
  • 9 am meet in Ravenna, visit the city, Classe and the mosaics
  • 1 pm lunch in Ravenna
  • 2,30 -4,30 pm transfer to Pineta di Classe and visit
  • 5,00 pm check-in
  • 8,30 pm dinner
– Day 3: Nature and hidden gems in the surroundings
  • 9 am meet in Comacchio, visit the city and Manifattura Marinati
  • 1 pm lunch in Comacchio
  • 2,30 -4,30 pm transfer to Abbazia di Pomposa and visit
  • 5,00 pm end of the tour

Is included

  • Accommodation and breakfast: 4 nights in agriturismo / B&B / hotels 3 or 4 stars (based on double room occupancy)
  • 4 meals (lunch / dinner)
  • All the experiences mentioned in the program
  • A local professional guide throughout your trip
  • Pre-trip support and assistance during your trip

 

Is not included , but can be arranged

  • Transportation throughout the tour
  • Any other destination/experience not specified in the program

What to bring – useful info

  • Pack one nicer outfit for evenings out (optional 😉)
  • 1 light jacket or wrap
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes
  • Small daypack that’s comfortable to carry
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Water bottle

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