Medieval “Wine Windows” Reopen In Tuscany To Serve People Wine While Social Distancing

Back in the 1630s during the Italian Plague, the windows were used for the same purposes – and nearly in the same process.

COVID-19 has been like the unexpected houseguest that just showed up unannounced, commandeered our sofa, ate all our food, and overstayed their welcome. While the world is handling their unwelcome visitor in different ways, our one goal is to get back to some kind of normal routine. Around the world, countries are slowly opening back up at different stages. And in Italy, one of the countries in Europe that was most affected by the pandemic, one city is returning to its roots for a socially distant solution.

In the city of Florence there is a revival of the use of small windows called “wine windows” as a means of providing people with food and drinks. As reported by Insider, these handy little windows are unique to Tuscany where they’re called buchette del vino. Their history goes all the way back to medieval times when they were used to sell surplus wine to members of the working class. However, the windows began to lost their appeal and weren’t used as much in the early 20th century. As Matteo Faglia of the Wine Window Association shared with Insider, “many wooden ones were permanently lost in the floods of 1966.”

Esattamente un anno fa siamo stati ad apporre la targa di Buchetta del Vino in un posto veramente speciale a…

Posted by Buchette del Vino on Friday, July 10, 2020

When the Wine Window Association was established five years ago in 2015, one of their aspirations was to revive these historic windows. As previously reported by Wine Spectator, the association went through the monumental task of recording almost 300 of these windows and organizing them into a map that can be seen on the association’s website. The revival of these windows was further pushed last year when the restaurant Babae became the first restaurant in the area to start using their wine window again. And given the current global health crisis, there are plenty of other restaurants and bars that are beginning to open their wine windows as well.

As the Wine Window Association ended up writing on their website, “Everyone is confined to home for two months and then the government permits a gradual reopening. During this time, some enterprising Florentine Wine Window owners have turned back the clock and are using their Wine Windows to dispense glasses of wine, cups of coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream — all germ-free, contactless!”

Interestingly enough, it seems that history is repeating itself. Back in the 1630s during the Italian Plague, the windows were used for the same purposes – and nearly in the same process. But unlike the contactless card payments of today, back in the 1630s physical payments were passed between the window using a metal pallet where they were then disinfected using vinegar.

Continuing the brief history lesson, the Wine Window Association’s website elaborated that the wine sellers also did their best to avoid touching the customer’s wine flasks either by having the customer buy a bottle of wine that has already been bottled, or by allowing the customer to fill their own flasks directly through a metal tube passed through the little windows which was then connected to the demijohn. What a well-thought out system they had back in the day.

But, with the rise in their popularity once again because of the pandemic and the need for social distancing, Faglia is now hoping that people will take an interest in these windows’ rich history. He’s hoping that their use in this pandemic will mean that more people respect them and stop vandalizing them – something that has been a problem in recent years.

Perhaps the most amazing thing these wine windows have emphasized is that history really does repeat itself. What do you think of these wine windows? Let us know!