Italy revives its 17th century wine windows …
Social distancing during on the on-going COVID 19 pandemic has played havoc with many business none more so then restaurants and bars, but businesses in Italy have taken inspiration from its past reviving an age old tradition of selling wine and drinks through “wine windows” or buchette del vino that where invented when the country was in the grips of another pandemic – the plague!
In the 1300s Europeans like today were gripped with the fear of catching a virus that spread through human contact but one thing remains the same our thirst for wine and alcohol. To combat this and continue selling their wears vinters in Italy gripped by the plague pandemic which ravaged northern and central Italy, including Florence, between 1629 and 1631 built small windows as a way to sell their wines customers whilst avoiding direct contact.
Attached to old palaces and noble households, wine windows can be spotted around Florence, with many dating back to medieval times, over the years the use of these windows sadly became obsolete with many boarded up and lost but in 2015 a Florentine association, Associazione Buchette del Vino—aka, the Wine Windows Association decided to catalog these historic quirks finding approximately 150 inside Florence’s old city walls, with another 100-plus cataloged beyond the walls and throughout Tuscany fast forward 400 years and as a modern pandemic continues to sweep through the city once again not only are these windows gaining popularity but some are now actively being used.
Gelateria Vivoli, one of Florence's famous ice cream parlours, was one of the first businesses to make use of its wine windows, "We chose to use our buchetta during Covid-19 both as a protective measure and to bring a smile to passers-by," said Giulia Vivoli, a fourth-generation owner of the gelato shop in an email interview. "We've had it open in the past, but to reuse it at this particular moment in time has felt especially apt."
With their increased popularity Matteo Faglia, president of the Wine Window Association now wants to place a plaque by all the wine windows as a sign of respect and a preservation of history and perhaps wine windows will once again become part of Florence's "new normal."