The Beating Heart of Tuscany, Florence is a charming city with lots of history and culture. Nestled among the rolling hillside of Tuscany, the city has a fantastic selection of museums, galleries and restaurants for you to enjoy. Wander down the cobbled streets and discover all of the hidden treasures before grabbing a bite to eat in Piazza della Passera. There is no shortage of things to do here with the grand Uffizi Gallery, the beautiful Florence Cathedral and the bustling Mercato Centrale.
Roam around Florence and you’ll come across small windows in arched frames built into the side of structures, at about the height of a bartop. When we say small - we mean it - usually 12 inches high and 8 inches wide they are just large enough to pass a fiasco (flask) of wine through them.
Many local noble families of the 1500s were unhappy when Cosimo de’ Medici rose to power as the Grand Duke of Tuscany. To appease them, the duke passed a law to permit the families to sell the wine they produced at their country estates from their city residences, allowing them to cut out the middleman and avoid taxes, which would make them far wealthier.
Florence’s common citizens were also happy with the arrangement as they had an easy supply of affordable wine - all they needed to do was knock on the wooden door of the little window and bring back their empty bottles for refilling from the home’s own wine cellar!
In the 1600s the bubonic plague hit Florence hard, killing 12 per cent of the city’s population. These little windows were a safe way for shopkeepers to sell wine and food with minimal contact, and thus they came to be known as buchette di vino - wine windows. At the time wine was believed to have medicinal qualities.
Now ubiquitous with the city, in 2015, a special association (buchettedelvino.org) was formed in Florence to preserve their history. There are believed to be over 285 wine windows, with half of them clustered around the centro storico (Old Town).
Over the last couple of years, the wine windows have gained a second life, with many of the windows becoming operational once again.
Even before the pandemic, restaurant Babae began serving wine, coffee, and even takeout meals from the window an hour each evening. The trend spread during the city’s 2020 lockdowns, as several other eateries followed suit. From Aperol spritzes or aperitif portions of fritto misto (morsels of battered and fried fish) to delicious gelato, there’s many delights to be found out of these little windows.
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