Portait of Dante Alighieri by Sandro Botticelli, 1495, 54×47 cm, with the iconic red dress and hat, and laurel crown.
Portait of Dante Alighieri by Sandro Botticelli, 1495.

Last night’s immersion into Alessandro Barbero’s captivating exploration of Dante Alighieri‘s life on Dantedì was nothing short of enthralling. As someone who has harboured a deep-seated passion for Dante’s works since high school and university, I found myself spellbound by every word. Among the myriad intriguing insights shared, one particular facet stood out—the profound significance of cities in shaping Italian identity.

In Dante’s era, Italy was a patchwork of città-stato, where cities were sovereign entities unto themselves. To be in a foreign city meant forfeiting the privileges associated with citizenship. Professor Barbero deftly drew parallels between the historical context and contemporary realities, underscoring how our roots in specific cities continue to define us today.

As an expatriate, I’ve often found that the question “Di dove sei, in Italia?” (“Where are you from in Italy?”) serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring significance of one’s hometown. It’s remarkable how this seemingly innocuous inquiry holds the power to forge connections or draw boundaries within our community.

I can’t help but wonder: does the hometown hold the same sway over identity in other cultures? I’m eager to hear your perspectives on this thought-provoking topic. Let’s ignite a conversation that transcends borders and delves into the heart of what truly defines us.

Do you want to know more about Italy and Italian? Contact me!

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