"Even as the Flemings, 'twixt Cadsand and Bruges Fearing the flood that tow'rds them hurls itself, Their bulwarks build to put the sea to flight; And as the Paduans along the Brenta, To guard their villas and their villages, Or ever Chiarentana feel the heat"

(Canto 15, line 4-9)

The land of the Flemings loosely refers to an area spanning parts of present-day Belgium, Netherlands and France that historically has been ruled by many different states and peoples. The original Italian for this line says "tra Guizzante e Bruggia": Guizzante was the Italian name for the modern village of Wissant in the extreme northern coast of France, which used to be an important port for trade with England in Dante's time. Bruges, in the northwest of modern Belgium, was likewise an important trading port where merchants from Italy and Florence almost surely would go. The modern flood control structures, for which the Netherlands are famous, trace their roots to Dante's time and before.

Brenta is a river in Northern Italy which passes by Padua. The area called "Carentana" in Dante's original Italian probably refers to the Carnic Alps, including the area today called Carinthia (a state in southern Austria). When the mountain snows melted in spring, the waters would have swelled the streams, often causing floods. Carinthia was also the name of a duchy in modern Austria and Slovenia.