Florence's charming "wine windows," or buchette del vino, are historical features that allowed noble families to sell wine directly from their homes, evading city taxes and minimizing contact during plagues. Revived recently, these small windows now offer wine, gelato, and other delights to pedestrians, blending a rich historical tradition with the convenience and charm of modern Florence.
Imagine craving a glass of wine while wandering the charming streets of Florence but finding yourself far from a café or bar. Fortunately, Florence offers a whimsical solution: the "wine windows" or buchette del vino. These tiny, arched windows, embedded in the walls of the city's historic buildings, present a unique way to enjoy a drink, blending convenience with a touch of history.
Wine windows are small, typically measuring about 30 cm in height and 15 cm in width, just large enough to pass a flask of wine through. Originating as a clever solution for noble families to sell wine directly from their homes, these windows allowed them to bypass city taxes and reduce human contact, especially during times like the Bubonic Plague.
The first recorded use of these wine windows dates back to the 17th century, during the Bubonic Plague. Nobles in Florence, a city renowned for its wine-making tradition, installed these windows to safely distribute wine, keeping the plague at bay. The practice began after Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, allowed noble families to sell wine from their residences from 1559.
Interestingly, these historical features saw a revival during the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to their original use centuries ago. Now, they serve not only wine but also Italian gelato, coffee, and food, offering a unique experience to locals and tourists alike.
For those keen to explore, the wine windows are scattered throughout Florence, with a concentration in the city center and the artisan-rich neighborhood of Santo Spirito. Some notable locations include Babae, a popular spot in Piazza Santo Spirito; Il Latini, famous for its bistecca alla Fiorentina; Fiaschetteria Fantappié, a buzzing wine shop; and Osteria Belle Donne, known for its traditional Tuscan fare.
Ordering from these windows is straightforward. Generally, there’s a menu posted near the window, and payment can be made via credit card or cash. After ordering, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll with your drink, absorbing the ambiance of Florence, before returning your glass.