This little place has been around for a very long time, for its name derives from the Latin porticum or market, a clue to the village’s origins in the Roman era, when the area was liberated from the Gauls.
But the Middle Ages were arguably its heyday, when the village was an important staging post en route from Romagna to Florence. The clashes between the various noble families vying to seize the area, which was strategic for the control of Italy, finally ended in 1386 when Portico became the capital of the Romagna lands within the Florentine republic.
The story of San Benedetto in Alpe is linked to that of St Benedict’s abbey, which has been here since the year 1000. Dante Alighieri found shelter in the abbey on his journey into exile from Florence, and here, it is said, is where he fell in love with Beatrice. The famous girl’s father, Fosco Portinari, owned Palazzo Portinari, which still stands in the centre of Portico.