When we think of Dante, we almost inevitably picture him in Florence where he was born, grew up and held public office. But in 1302, when Dante was 37 years old, he was exiled from Florence under penalty of death if he returned. During his 19 years of exile, he wrote his greatest work, The Divine Comedy.
In 1301, Dante was a member of a delegation sent from Florence to Rome to meet with the Pope. While he was in Rome, there was a major political change in Florence. The Black Guelfs seized power, brutally ousting the White Guelfs. Since Dante was a White Guelf, he was tried in absentia and sentenced to death if he returned to Florence. He spent the rest of his life in exile.
On a previous visit to Rome we saw the building where Dante reportedly stayed while he was in Rome, in the via dei Soldati, a quiet street near the Tiber.