Dr. Marina Melita, Coordinator of Italian Studies

Canto V of "The Inferno"
by Dante Alighieri

Thus I descended out of the first circle
Down to the second, that less space begirds,
And so much greater dole, that goads to wailing.

There standeth Minos horribly, and snarls;
Examines the transgressions at the entrance;
Judges, and sends according as he girds him.

Read the full poem

My favorite Italian poem is an excerpt from Dante Alighieri's Inferno, part I of La Divina Commedia, in particular Canto V. This is the very famous story of Paolo and Francesca, two lovers who commit adultery while reading, of all things! This is my favorite poem, not because it is an incredible tale of love, desire, and perpetual longing, but because it was the first excerpt of an Italian poem that I ever read when I first started studying Italian in 2004. I did not understand its true complexity or beauty until a few years later when I saw it presented live by Roberto Benigni. It was at that moment that I final understood the beauty and brilliance of Alighieri's work.