The Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy, on the occasion of the 21st Week of the Italian Language in the World and the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, has displayed an anastatic copy of the so-called Dante Guarneriano manuscript, one of the oldest and most richly decorated examples of Dante’s Canticle of Hell, dating from between the late 14th to the early 15th century.
The event was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with St. Michael’s College and Massey College. The anastatic copy of the Dante Guarneriano manuscript was hand-crafted by the Scriptorium Foroiuliense of San Daniele, one of the most highly regarded centres of medieval calligraphy and book production in Italy. The Scriptorium – Scuola Italiana Amanuensi – has produced a dozen anastatic copies of the Dante Guarneriano manuscript, on hand-made cotton fibre paper, according to the original techniques for creating illuminated manuscripts, including miniatures gilded with gold leaf. The anastatic copy of the Dante Guarneriano manuscript arrived in Toronto with a delegation from the Municipality of San Daniele del Friuli, led by the mayor Pietro Valent and the amanuenses of the Scriptorium. The work was presented in the presence of the Consul General, Eugenio Sgrò, and the Director of the Italian Institute of Culture, Veronica Manson, joined by a panel of experts in Medieval studies including Stephen Tardif of the University of Toronto and Paolo Granata of Massey College. The in-person event was also streamed live on the YouTube channel of Massey College and of the Italian Cultural Institute.
Following the event, the amanuenses of the Scriptorium held a series of workshops on Medieval writing at the Department of Italian Studies, open to students of the University of Toronto. The cycle of events dedicated to the Dante Guarneriano manuscript ended with a virtual tour of the Opificium Librorum and the Biblioteca Guarneriana, live from San Daniele del Friuli, to explore “in real time” the creation of a Medieval manuscript. The Italian Language Week and Dante celebrations also included the Canadian premiere of the show “A Spectator Odyssey: O dell’Inferno” by the Italian-Canadian company DopoLavoro Teatro (DTL Toronto). The 2-stage interactive show was presented at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and inside Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. The audience was taken on a theatrical “journey” inside and outside the theatre and the market, where performances inspired by various cantos of Dante’s Inferno were presented each time. The programme of events ended with the contemporary dance performance “Dante Solo Inferno” by the Artemis Danza company at the Fleck Dance Theatre in Toronto, in the presence of the Consul General, Eugenio Sgrò, the Director of ICE, Marco Saladini, and the Director of the Goethe Institute, Nina Wichman. The performance, organised by the Institute of Culture with the support of the Ministry of Culture (MiC) and the Region of Emilia Romagna, in collaboration with the Ravenna Festival, featured not only the first and the last canticles, but also Dante’s Canti dedicated to Charon, Pier delle Vigne, Ulysses, Paolo and Francesca and Minos.