Santa Margherita de' Cerchi ☆☆☆

Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy (Photo by Anton Nistratov)

A tiny medieval church with several Dante associations

, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy. (Photo by Sailko)
The Portinari altar, under which Beatrice is buried, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy. (Photo by Albertus82)
The simple grave of Beatrice, with the basket of love letters beside it, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy. (Photo by Sailko)
'The Wedding of Beatrice' (1928) by Raffaello Sorbi, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy. (Photo Public Domain)
, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Florence, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Sergi)

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.

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 under a slab beneath an altar on the left wall. Next to it is a basket filled with letters from people asking for her help with their love lives.

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.)

Photo gallery
  • , Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Italy (Photo by Anton Nistratov)
  • , Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Portinari altar, under which Beatrice is buried, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Italy (Photo by Albertus82)
  • The simple grave of Beatrice, with the basket of love letters beside it, Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • , Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, Italy (Photo by Giuseppe Sergi)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).