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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

How covid revived Italy's wine window tradition

From the plague to covid: wine windows have made a comeback in Tuscany.

Italy has seen a revival of the 'wine window' tradition, which dates back to the era of the 'Black Death' in the Middle Ages, thanks to the country's covid-19 restrictions over the last year.

Around 150 of these tiny 17th-century windows still exist in the historic centre of Florence, reports Italian newspaper La Stampa, however many have been sealed up or lost over the centuries.

In addition to Florence, the so-called buchette del vino can reportedly be found in 27 towns around Tuscany. 

Their origin goes back to the time of the plague, when they were introduced as part of anti-contagion measures, allowing merchants to sell wine and top up bottles without coming into contact with the customer.

In the era of the coronavirus, the Tuscan tradition has turned full circle and the 'germ-free' wine windows have been enjoying something of a Renaissance.

Their revival is championed by the Wine Windows association which, in addition to promoting the ancient tradition with tours, has been busy affixing plaques under the pint-sized holes.

The Florence-based cultural association says that it is not just vino being handed out through the little windows these days, with the magical sight of hands offering customers gelato, coffee, spritz and even books.

Florence's wine-windows gained international exposure recently after they featured in Stanley Tucci's acclaimed television series Searching for Italy

For full details (in English) about the history of the buchette del vino, and where to find them, see the Wine Windows website.

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