An appeal to hope in the name of Dante is the one that started today in the basilica of Santa Croce during the presentation of the restoration of the cenotaph, the empty sepulchral monument of the poet. The invitation to hope was shared by the president of the Opera di Santa Croce Irene Sanesi, by the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella, by the prefect Alessandra Guidi and by Father Paolo Bocci, rector of the basilica.

But the strongest message of hope came from the lines of the Comedy with which Monica Guerritore opened the ceremony, the beginning of the first canto of Hell and two triplets of canto XXIV of Purgatory. “In Dante you can feel all the greatness of the human soul, of poetry and of the arts. Dante still speaks to us and moves us, that is, he 'moves us together' for this is great. As soon as today I started to say 'in the middle of the journey of our life', we all found ourselves together ”, underlined the actress.

Santa Croce is a symbolic place for Monday 2021. "Today we are all here together, in the place of definitive reconciliation between the great poet and his city, to send a message of unity and hope - said the president of the Opera di Santa Croce Irene Sanesi - The restoration of Dante's cenotaph is precisely the result of the unity of the institutions and, as happened for the construction of the monument in the nineteenth century, it is also a gift from contemporary patrons: Florence and Christian Levett, Dedalus Italia and El.En. "

"Dante today gives us hope, illuminates our dreams and makes us proud to be Italian, but above all to be part of that country that has given the whole world civilization and culture," said the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella. Pressed on the return of Dante's remains to Florence, Nardella replied that “Dante is everywhere, no claim, but a great act of love for the poet. This is why we have beautiful projects and initiatives that have involved young people, schools, theaters and places in the city ”.

“The value of unity characterizes this initiative and is expressed above all in the gesture of restoring the luminosity of this monument to Florence and the whole community, right now that we need light and hope”, added the prefect Alessandra Guidi.

"Virgil and Beatrice, reason and faith that accompany Dante on his journey, are a point of reference for the moment we are living - added Father Paolo Bocci, who indicated in these human and spiritual values ​​a current tool for choices future. "

The solemnly pensive face of the poet, who from above seems to perpetually scrutinize the history of men, has rediscovered its ancient light thanks to the restoration that involved the entire cenotaph, the work of the sculptor Stefano Ricci, which the Florentines dedicated to Dante in 1830 with declared intent to compensate. The conservation intervention was carried out using traditional methods and the use of laser technology which made it possible to intervene in the parts that presented major conservation problems. The restoration was carried out by Stefano Landi together with some collaborators, including Aviv Prince who took care of the recovery of the gilding. The work was divided into various phases: dusting of all surface deposits, pre-consolidation, stratigraphic investigations, surface cleaning, consolidation, compensation and grouting. With a specific technique, the writings with a gold background have also been restored. Immediately after the flood, the cenotaph had undergone a general cleaning operation and today's intervention has also allowed the removal of some silt residues as well as some engravings by vandals.

Under the supervision of the Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of the Metropolitan City of Florence and the Provinces of Pistoia and Prato, the restoration was coordinated by Eleonora Mazzocchi, Head of the Protection and Management Service of the Historical and Artistic Heritage of the Opera di Santa Croce.

The project had the sponsored by the National Committee for the Celebration of the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri and it has seen a collective mobilization of institutions - Fondo Buildings of Worship of the Ministry of the Interior, Municipality of Florence and Opera di Santa Croce - and private entities. Dante's cenotaph, the first official recognition of the city of Florence to the poet who died in exile and buried in Ravenna, he was promoted by Grand Duke Ferdinando III (1769-1824). The initiative aroused great consensus so much that Giacomo Leopardi - in the autumn of 1818 - composed the song Above the monument of Dante preparing in Florence.