Born in Florence around 1265, Dante was a poet, philosopher, and political thinker who wrote one of the most famous works of world literature—The Divine Comedy, which chronicled his imagined journey from hell to heaven—while in exile from his native city. Dante is sometimes called the father of the modern Italian language for his promotion of the Florentine Tuscan vernacular over Latin, a choice that would make Florence the creative center of the renaissance.
Dante's education was informal and eclectic. He studied Tuscan and troubadour poetry, classical Greek writers, and religious philosophy at home and in local monasteries before becoming a politician. In a period marked by political instability, ambition could be dangerous—Dante left Florence under threat of his life and would never see his wife again after his exile.
Today, Dante is one of Florence's favorite sons. The city not only built him a tomb in the Basilica of Santa Croce but went to the lengths of holding a trial to clear his name in 2021.