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Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321), was the first major poet to write in Tuscan (the vernacular) instead of Latin. Born in Florence, he was banished from the city in 1302. The last years of his life were spent in Ravenna.

His most famous work is 'The Divine Comedy', which is divided into three books, 'Inferno', 'Purgatorio' and 'Paradiso'. Reference is made to Dante's contemporary, Giotto, in 'Purgatorio' (40: 94). 'The Divine Comedy' has been illustrated many times, most notably by Botticelli, and the descriptions of heaven and hell have been a source for numerous paintings.

In the 'Vita Nuova' Dante addresses his beloved, Beatrice, who was beautiful and unattainable, in a series of love poems.