The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of changes this year. While it feels like we’re entering into a whole new world, the fact is that previous generations also faced health crises and had to find ways to adapt. Take Italy’s wine windows, for example. These cute windows around Florence and Tuscany have an interesting history, but these spectacles are now becoming Instagram-worthy moments during this modern-day pandemic.
The History of Wine Windows
The Bubonic Plague swept through Europe in the early 1600s, killing around ⅓ of the European population at the time. The plague devastated Italy from 1629 to 1631. During this time, many still needed their wine fix, so Buchette del Vino, or “wine windows” were created.
These small windows in the side of buildings were used way before “social distancing” was a part of the new norm. But they were used to do just that! In the 17th century, these little shuttered windows allowed people to buy and sell wine without having direct contact. Winemakers would pass a flask through the window, along with a metal tray to the customer. The customer would drop coins into the tray, return it, and then the winemaker would disinfect the coins with vinegar.
Clearly, a plague was not enough to stop people from getting their vino. In 2015 three individuals started a foundation called Associazione Buchette del Vino. This association was created to help preserve these historic windows in Florence. Now 5 years later, they are again needed. There is no official number of how many wine windows there were exactly in Florence during the plague. Many have either been covered or destroyed. One example is the flood of 1966 in Florence, during which many of the wine windows were destroyed beyond repair.
Currently, they believe there are around 150 wine windows within the old city walls of Florence, 25 outside of the old city walls, and 93 scattered around Tuscany. The Wine Window Association has a map of where all the wine windows are located.