The wine windows

Buchette del vino

The wine windows

An old Italian saying says “those who have wine at home, always have flasks next to the door”… and we would also say next to the “smaller door”. If you are walking around Florence, you will see without doubt one of the 160 wine windows, located about one meter from the floor, which represent a kind of a miniature of the main door of the building. And if you wonder what they are, the answer is simple: they are the famous “Wine windows”, coming back into use thanks to the cultural association “Buchette del Vino” (so they are called in Italian).

The tradition of the Wine windows dates back to the 16th century, when the Florentine merchants, who were strong in the textile trade, were subject to competition from the countries in northern Europe: to reinvent themselves, the powerful families of the aristocracy began to convert their activities into agricultural land and estates, where they cultivated various products, including… grapes. Through the buchette, the wine was sold directly to travellers who showed up with their own flask: this activity represented a real economic alternative to winemakers and taverns, as the sale was direct, from producer to consumer and, therefore, tax-free! The “market” of the windows had to follow a strict rule: people could not sell salted bread to make the “customers” thirsty, the amount of wine sold had to be checked and in the evening, upon the chiming of the bells, the owners had to close their Wine windows. The buchette had always the same shape: no more than 40 cm high, they opened onto a room on the ground floor, easily connected to the cellar. They were characterized by an arched shape, were often decorated and they were closed by a wooden door.

In short, millions of wine flasks have gone through these holes for over 3 centuries and, in recent years, some of the buchette have even come back to life, such as at Babae, in Santo Spirito Street. So if our article made you thirsty, take a walk in Florence and send us your photos of the Wine windows. The recommended starting point is the buchetta located in the palace of the Antinori family in del Trebbio Street.  The Antinori’s are members of MTV Toscana since the beginning.

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