Florence Safely Serves People Through 17th-Century “Wine Windows” Used During the Plague

Buchette del Vino a Firenze

Photo: Vivoli

As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way businesses operate, many are getting creative so that they can continue to serve their customers. And in Florence, several are taking advantage of old technology to keep everyone protected. Italy, which was hit early by the pandemic, quickly shut the country down in early March. This meant that only delivery or, in some areas, take away was available. Luckily, a trick from the day of the plague helped some business owners get by.

Wine windows, or buchette del vino, date back to the 1630s and were used when plagues ran rampant throughout Europe. Even at that time, merchants understood that disease could be spread by contact and these small openings allowed them to sell wine without fear of infection. To collect money, they passed a small metal pallet through the hole, which was then disinfected with vinegar after the transaction.

Unique to Tuscany, there are still over 150 wine windows scattered about and some shop owners are using them to continue business while social distancing. The Buchette del Vino Cultural Association, which works to preserve the remaining wine windows, documents this phenomenon on their website. In Florence, the ice cream shop Vivoli uses their wine window to serve everything from gelato to espresso to their grateful clients. And, on the other side of town, Babae sticks to tradition by using their wine window during happy hour, something they began doing in 2019. From this little opening, they dole out glasses of wine and spritz cocktails to the masses.

The use of these wine windows speaks to the resilience and adaptability of the Italian people. As the country was devastated in early waves of the coronavirus, they came together to do what was necessary to flatten the curve. Whether they were singing from their balconies or designing innovative masks, they did what had to be done in order to get things back on track.

Wine windows, or buchette del vino, were first used in Florence in the 1630s for merchants to keep themselves safe during the plague.

Wine Window in Florence

Photo: Stock Photos from Simona Sirio/Shutterstock

Now they're being used during the coronavirus to serve everything from wine to coffee to ice cream.

Wine Windows in Use During Coronavirus

Photos: Buchette del Vino

Ice Cream Being Served Through a Wine Window

Photo: Vivoli

Customers have also been sharing their photos of their service at the wine windows.


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h/t: [Insider]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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