Santa Margherita de' Cerchi

A tiny medieval church with several Dante associations

The church of Santa Margherita de' Cerchi in Florence
Santa Margherita de' Cerchi. (Photo by Javier Carro)
Though the Badia was the big church in the neighborhood, most folks worshipped at Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, founded in the 12th century and just up the block from the Dante Museum.

This tiny wonderfully spare medieval church (since deconsecrated) has a lovely altarpiece of the Madonna Enthroned with Four Saints by Neri di Bicci. However, it is most significant as the site where the stories of the two women in Dante's life cross.

Santa Margherita is where Dante married Gemma Donati in 1295.

It was also the Portinari family church, where the chaste and courtly love of Dante's life, Beatrice Portinari, prayed and it is where she is burried.

Beatrice (pronounced in Italian bay-ah-TREE-chay) met Dante precisely twice—age age 8 and again at 17—and it is unclear if she knew anything of Dante other than that he was another kids from the neighborhood. She was married to another man at the age of 21, and died at the age of 24. This allows her ghost to reside in Heaven and serve Dante as guide in Paradiso, the third book in his poetic masterpiece Divine Comedy. » more

The doors are almost always open, so you can pop in to see Beatrice's simple grave.

The space regularly hosts music concerts—and also pipes recorded music through its speakers throughout much of the day, so you can hear this church before you ever see it.

(Note: The larger, nearby, similarly named church of Santa Marghertia in Santa Maria de' Ricci on Via del Corso also hosts concerts; do not confuse the two. This is the tiny, stony one; the one on Via del Corso has a much more elaborate, porticoed facade of three arches in yellow plaster and grey pietra serena stone.)

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