Italy marks Dante Day

Roberto Benigni to read Paradiso on TV from the presidential palace

Photo: EPA The statue of Dante Alighieri in the Piazza dei Signori square in Verona.

Italy marks Dante Day on Thursday on the 700th anniversary of the Divine Comedy author's death in Ravenna. The 'Supreme Poet' will be celebrated across the country with the highest-profile event being a televised reading of Canto XXV of the Paradiso by comic actor, director and Dante buff Roberto Benigni at the presidential Quirinal Palace at 19:10 in the presence of President Sergio Mattarella and Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, ANSA reported.

In the famed canto, Dante's muse Beatrice vouches for the poet and pilgrim's possession of hope in redemption.

March 25 was chosen as Dante Day as scholars believe it was on this date that Italy's greatest poet descended into Hell for the first part of his epic journey through the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.

Later on Thursday Benigni will recite on Rai3 the iconic Paolo and Francesca episode from Canto V of the Inferno, a tale of forbidden love and honour killing that has inspired artists including Rodin and Dante Gabriele Rossetti, as well as countless musical interpretations.

Dante as a pilgrim was so struck by the story of passionate love that he fainted in Inferno, while Dante the philosopher and religious thinker condemned the lovers for their adultery.

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