Florence eventually came to regret Dante's exile, and the city made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body in Ravenna refused, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nonetheless, a tomb was built for him in Florence in 1829, in the Basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he had loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honor the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in limbo. The ensuing line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.
He wrote the Comedy in a language he called "Italian", in some sense an amalgamated literary language mostly based on the regional dialect of Tuscany, but with some elements of Latin and other regional dialects. He deliberately aimed to reach a readership throughout Italy including laymen, clergymen and other poets. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is sometimes nicknamed la langue de Dante. Publishing in the vernacular language marked Dante as one of the first in Roman Catholic Western Europe (among others such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio) to break free from standards of publishing in only Latin (the language of liturgy, history and scholarship in general, but often also of lyric poetry). This break set a precedent and allowed more literature to be published for a wider audience, setting the stage for greater levels of literacy in the Future. However, unlike Boccaccio, Milton or Ariosto, Dante did not really become an author read all over Europe until the Romantic era. To the Romantics, Dante, like Homer and Shakespeare, was a prime Example of the "original genius" who sets his own rules, creates persons of overpowering stature and depth, and goes far beyond any imitation of the patterns of earlier masters; and who, in turn, cannot truly be imitated. Throughout the 19th century, Dante's reputation grew and solidified; and by 1865, the 600th anniversary of his birth, he had become established as one of the greatest literary icons of the Western world.
Italy's first dreadnought battleship was completed in 1913 and named Dante Alighieri in honor of him.
On April 30, 1921, in honor of the 600th anniversary of Dante's death, Pope Benedict XV promulgated an encyclical named In praeclara summorum, calling him one "of the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast" and the "pride and glory of humanity".
In 2007, a reconstruction of Dante's face was undertaken in a collaborative project. Artists from Pisa University and Engineers at the University of Bologna at Forlì constructed the model, portraying Dante's features as somewhat different from what was once thought.
In 2008, the Municipality of Florence officially apologized for expelling Dante 700 years earlier.
As for the hope of returning to Florence, he describes it as if he had already accepted its impossibility (in Paradiso, XXV, 1–9):
Dante's other works include Convivio ("The Banquet"), a collection of his longest poems with an (unfinished) allegorical commentary; Monarchia, a summary treatise of political philosophy in Latin which was condemned and burned after Dante's death by the Papal Legate Bertrando del Poggetto, which argues for the necessity of a universal or global monarchy in order to establish universal peace in this life, and this monarchy's relationship to the Roman Catholic Church as guide to eternal peace; De vulgari eloquentia ("On the Eloquence of Vernacular"), on vernacular literature, partly inspired by the Razos de trobar of Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun; and La Vita Nuova ("The New Life"), the story of his love for Beatrice Portinari, who also served as the ultimate symbol of salvation in the Comedy. The Vita Nuova contains many of Dante's love poems in Tuscan, which was not unprecedented; the vernacular had been regularly used for lyric works before, during all the thirteenth century. However, Dante's commentary on his own work is also in the vernacular—both in the Vita Nuova and in the Convivio—instead of the Latin that was almost universally used. References to Divina Commedia are in the format (book, canto, verse), e.g., (Inferno, XV, 76).
A celebration was held in 2015 for the 750th anniversary of his birth.