Italy's greatest writer (indeed, one of the Western World's most important writers), Dante Alighieri, was born in Florence in 1265. Alas, he found himself on the wrong side of a political battle in his home city. After supporting the (losing) White Guelphs, Dante was banished—upon pain of death—from his beloved Florence. After a bit of moving around, he settled in Ravenna, some 90 miles from Florence, where he died and is entombed to this day.
Dante's greatest work, The Divine Comedy, was written during his exile. It is considered one of the most important works of literature of all time, in any language. And, unlike other important Medieval writers who wrote in Latin, Dante wrote in the vulgate, specifically the Italian Tuscan dialect. After Dante's death, Florence soon began to regret its decision to exile its most most famous son. Popes, military troops, even Michelangelo Buonarotti played a role attempting to force or cajole Ravenna into surrendering Dante's remains to the city of his birth. At one point, Ravenna "hid" the poet's bones in a false wall of the church (where he was forgotten for a few hundred years). In 1829, Florence built a grand tomb for Dante in the Church of Santa Croce, hoping to receive his bones some day. The tomb remains empty to this day. You can see his actual tomb in Ravenna, however, a city which is well worth a visit.
These bronze-clad bookends, made in New York in the 1920's, feature a beautifully modeled bust of the great poet. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248