By Reuters, Florence
Tuesday July 20, 1999
Two employees at the national central library in Florence stumbled across the remains by chance while searching in the rare manuscripts department.
'They came across an envelope on one of the shelves on the second floor,' the library's director, Antonia Ida Fontana, said. 'They opened it and found a bag of ashes along with documents which identify them as those of Dante.'
Dante, whose Paradise, Purgatory and Hell were among the most influential texts of medieval Europe, was born in Florence in 1265 and banished for his political views in 1302. He died in bitter exile in Ravenna in 1321.
On the 600th anniversary of his birth in 1865 scientists opened his tomb and donated a few of his ashes to the Florence library, then based in the Uffizi gallery.
The relics were displayed in Florence in 1929 but went missing, possibly when the library moved in 1935.
'We have been without these ashes for 70 years,' Ms Fontana said. 'It's a very emotional find for us. It's the only relic of Dante we have in Florence, which was always such a bitter-sweet city for him.'