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Beatrice Portinari, real name Bice di Folco Portinari [1] ((12661290) was a woman from Florence, Italy, who was the principal inspiration for Dante Alighieri's Vita Nuova. She also appears as his guide in The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) in the last book, Paradise and in the last four canti of Purgatory. There Beatrice takes over as guide from the Latin poet Virgil because Virgil, a pagan, cannot enter Paradise and because, being the incarnation of beatific love, as her name implies, it is she who leads into the Beatific Vision.

Her birth name is Bice Portinari, the daughter of Folco di Ricovero Portinari. Dante met her when his father took him to the Portinari house for a May Day party. Dante was instantly taken with her and remained so throughout her life even though she married a banker, Simone dei Bardi, in 1287. She died three years later in June of 1290 at the age of 24. But Dante continued to hold an abiding love and respect for the woman after her death, even though Dante himself married Gemma Donati in 1285 and had his own children. After Beatrice's death, Dante withdrew into intense study and began composing poems dedicated to her memory. The collection of these new-found poems along with others he had previously written in his journal in awe of Beatrice became La Vita Nuova.

Beatrice Portinari has been immortalized not only in Dante's poems but in paintings by Pre-Raphaelite masters and poets.

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