See How Centuries-Old ‘Wine Windows’ Are Trending
The windows are experiencing a renaissance thanks to the pandemic – will they be part of the dining scene's "new normal?"
As the world continues to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, it's easy to forget that the threat of a pandemic is nothing new. In the 1600's, a series of outbreaks of the Bubonic plague ravaged northern and central Italy, killing nearly a third of the area's population.
Similar to current times, residents isolated themselves to avoid catching the plague. Those who did venture out of their homes could find some relief by visiting one of the many "wine windows," or buchette del vino, that were carved into the stone walls of the towns' wineries and shops.
Restaurants like Osteria delle Brache in Florence have revived the wine windows for 'contact-less' transactions for cocktails, wine and other items. @buchettedelvino
The shopkeepers could serve wine and other items to patrons through the small opening in the wall without making any physical contact. The result was medieval social distancing at its finest!
Matteo Faglia, president of the Wine Window Association, told Insider, "People could knock on the little wooden shutters and have their bottles filled direct from the Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli families, who still produce some of Italy's best-known wine today."
The wine windows were originally designed for the upper class to sell wine directly to commoners without having to interact with them. @buchettedelvino
While there hasn't been much need for the windows since the 1600's, they've made a comeback recently due to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus hit Italy hard in the first few months of the outbreak and caused over 135,000 deaths.
When the country went into total lockdown in February, videos flooded social media of people singing together from their balconies – and we can imagine, the wine never stopped flowing.
Listen as Italians sing from their balconies during the nationwide lockdown...
video c/o Yamin Hossain Shohan
In Florence and Tuscany, where most of the country's wine windows are located, restaurants and bar owners are offering people 'contact-less' options to purchase coffee, cocktails and ice cream through the portals.
While the architectural quirk has largely been forgotten in the centuries since they've been created, the Wine Window Association was established in 2016 to help raise awareness with both tourists and locals.
Thanks to the attention the windows are getting during the pandemic, Faglia hopes people will appreciation them more and join their mission to protect and conserve the historic openings for future generations.
"We want to put a plaque by all the wine windows, as people tend to respect them more when they understand what they are and their history," he said.
Historians hope the revival of the wine windows will encourage people to protect and preserve them. @buchettedelvino
As long as the wine is flowing, and people are staying safe, what's not to like? It sounds like the buchette del vino are here to stay.