Born at Portico di Romagna, near Forlì, he was later prior of Florence in 1282. He was the father of Beatrice Portinari, the woman largely identified as the character loved by Dante and mentioned in several of his works. In 1285 he donated a large part of his assets to the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence to found a female wing.
His residence in Florence was the future Palazzo Portinari Salviati. He was buried in the nearby church of Santa Margherita de' Cerchi.