Son of a Florentine a cobbler, Porcacchi appears to have shown artistic and poetic promise at an early age. He was a member of a group of local writers who met frequently in Castiglione, calling themselves the “Accademia”; and when he was nineteen, in 1551, his father petitioned for a place for Porcacchi as a boarder in a Studio in Pisa. The request was declined. However, by 1556, some of his poems had been published in a compilation, De le rime di diversi eccellentissimi autori nuovamente raccolte libro primo, published in Lucca by Vincenzo Busdraghi. It was the first of many similar contributions throughout the 1550s.
In the early 1560s Porcacchi travels to Bologna and Rome, but settled in Venice, where he published a number of literary, religious, and historical works, including and epic series of classical Greek works, in translation, as Collana historica de’ greci, 1570.
In 1572, Porcacchi was inspired to issue his own version of the “Isolario”, or “Island book”, illustrating and describing the most famous islands, peninsulas, and occasional continents (i.e. North America) of the world. Published in collaboration with bookseller Simone Galignani and the Paduan engraver Girolamo Porro, it was dedicated to Don Giovanni of Austria. Porcacchi added a physical, historical and cultural description for each island, together with a glossary of geographical terms.