In spite of all these accolades, Dante still remained an Alighieri, nothing in comparison to a Portinari. Beatrice was the daughter of Folco Portinari, prior of Florence. He was a banker and very wealthy man who is still today linked with the history of Florence due to the donations made thanks to Monna Tessa, Beatrice’s nurse, given for the construction of Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.
The family became a cornerstone for Florentine patronage, we just have to think about the work of Tommaso, a trader for the Medici in Bruges, who brought the famous Portinari Triptych to Florence where it was exhibited for a long time in the Church of Sant'Egidio, before being exhibited in the Uffizi Galleries.
As you can see they were very high bourgeoisie! A marriage between them was not even conceivable. She married a Bardi, a family with a very important chapel in the Basilica of Santa Croce at the wings of the transept. Bardi and Portinari were great entrepreneurs in Florence at the time of the creation of the Florentine bank and economic success. Dante, on the other hand, married Gemma Donati, also for social convenience.
In short, their impossible and never actualized love transformed into Dante’s creation of something sublime. It remained in the poet's mind, where he raised her to the level of an angelic woman who guided him through heaven in his poetry. She was an ethereal figure and great beauty, "so kind and so honest she seems", portrayed several times as a fairy, both weightless and elevated.