Durante degli Alighieri, simply referred to as Dante (c. 1265??1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.
Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished Paradiso, and died in 1321 (aged 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, possibly of malaria contracted there. He was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice, erected a tomb for him in 1483.
Florence eventually came to regret Dante's exile, and the city made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body in Ravenna refused, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nonetheless, a tomb was built for him in Florence in 1829, in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he had loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta??which roughly translates as “Honor the most exalted poet.” The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in limbo. The ensuing line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita (“his spirit, which had left us, returns”), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.