700 years ago, on 25th March 1321, the "Supreme Poet", Dante Alighieri died. He is widely considered to be the father of the Renaissance, and his most famous work is The Divine Comedy, which includes the well-known Inferno (not the Dan Brown story!). He was also one of the first to write in the local vernacular language, rather than the more academic Latin, and in doing so, reached more ordinary Florentines. As his works spread across Italy, so did the Florentine dialect, creating the basis of what we now know to be the Italian language.
His own life also held drama, with his unrequited love for Beatrice and his banishment from Florence. He is buried in Ravenna, and the arguments between Florence and Ravenna about where he should reside are a whole other story!
Dante holds a special place in the hearts of Italians, none more so than Dario Cecchini, from Panzano, a small village in Tuscany. Dario is a butcher. Not an ordinary butcher, he is an international celebrity, due to his great character and the care and respect he gives to the meat he serves. I have been lucky enough to visit his shop and eat at his restaurant on more than one occasion, and they are among the most memorable experiences of my life.
Here is what Dario has to say about Dante!