The Dante of the commentary tradition enjoyed a renewed fortune in this series of editions published by the Sessa family immediately following the Council of Trent (1563) in the religiously charged atmosphere of the Counter-Reformation. The Florentine editor Francesco Sansovino dedicated his edition of the poem, which brought together for the first time under one cover the Landino and Vellutello commentaries, to Pope Pius IV; with the following words, reflecting an appropriately mannerist taste for etymological conceit: "... sì come il suggetto di questo scrittore -- tutto pio, e christiano ..." (... since the subject matter of this poet is completely pious and Christian ...). Sansovino may well have been responsible for the innovation of printing both the Landino and Vellutello commentaries together, in imitation of a practice already established in the publication of Greek and Latin classics. His own contributions include interesting additions (titled "Aggiunte del Sansovino") to Landino's introductory defense of the cultural achievements of the Florentines in religion, war and the arts. Sansovino adds the names of many of the Florentines who had distinguished themselves in these fields since Landino's time, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and his own father Jacopo Sansovino, a famous sculptor and architect.

Born in Rome in 1521, Francesco Sansovino was brought to Venice following the sack of his native city in 1527, and there his father obtained an honored position as engineer. Francesco studied law in Padua and Bologna, and after attempting a career as courtier at the court of Pope Julius III, he eventually returned to Venice. There he married and lived quietly until his death in 1583.

Francesco Sansovino typifies the figures who moved in the editorial circles of the period. A polygraph author of poetry, prose writings on literature, history and rhetoric, as well as a translator and editor, Sansovino not only compiled, translated, and annotated text for Venetian printers, he even opened his own printing house, publishing around thirty editions, many of good quality, between 1560-62 and in 1568.

None of Sansovino's works are much read today, although many were read widely during the Renaissance, especially his historical works. His encyclopedic description of his adopted city, Venetia, città nobilis et singolare, descritta in XIIII libri (Venezia, 1581), is a useful source for descriptions of churches, works of art, personalities, famous events, and customs of the time. He also wrote a history of the Turks in Europe (Annali Turcheschi), a history of illustrious Italian families (Origini e fatti delle famiglie illustri d'Italia), a treatise in seven books on the art of writing letters (Il Secretario), as well as a book on the government of kingdoms and republics (Del governo dei regni e delle republiche). Sansovino also found time for writing literary criticism, including studies of Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Bembo and Sannazaro. In this genre, a book about Boccaccio's Decameron, Lettere sopra le dieci giornate del Decameron(Venice, 1543), is worthy of note.

The portrait of the poet on the title page is derived from a portrait of Dante by the mannerist painter and author Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574). It offers a telling contrast to the earlier more idealized and conventional portraits which had presented the poet as if on a medallion or coin, in classical profile with toga and laurel.

1564 Edition:

1578 Edition:

These two copies of the Sessa 1578 imprint illustrate how the printer disposed the Landino and Vellutello commentaries consecutively in double columns, enclosing between them the glossed segment of text. The Renaissance reader of this copy heavily annotated his book with underlining and marginal glosses (a, b). It is interesting to note how he apparently ignores the more recent Vellutello commentary completely. The reader may have owned a Marcolini edition of the Vellutello commentary but had no other source for the Landino, which had not been published for more than forty years. He also catches printer's misattribution of a portion of Landino's commentary to Vellutello.

The illustrations for the Sessa editions, like the one from Paradiso, were based upon those of the 1544 Marcolini edition.

1596 Edition: