Epidemics have caused significant changes in people’s daily lives. The epidemic, which was effective in the northern and central parts of Italy between 1629 and 1631 and also called the “Great Plague of Milan”, was undoubtedly one of the most difficult conditions that has emerged throughout history! According to estimates, between 250 thousand and 1 million people died in Italy due to this terrible epidemic. The population of some cities in northern and central Italy has almost halved due to the epidemic! Of course, the daily lives of Italians living at that time also changed significantly due to the epidemic. This change was also felt in Florence, the administrative center of the Tuscany region, which is famous for its wines. The epidemic hindered all social activities, and social distance was then one of the most frequently used concepts of daily life! But wine was much more important to Florentines than a simple drink. The cultural and economic dynamics of the city were based on this beverage. That’s why in Florence, “buchette del vino” has emerged for the continuation of wine shopping without violating social distance…
In 1559, a law was passed in Florence allowing the sale of wine from private cellars.
This law was of great benefit to families who owned extensive vineyards in the area. The leading wealthy families of Florence began to sell the wine they produced on their farms in their private cellars and homes. Thus, the opportunity to trade more wine arose and they began to pay less tax. The law also allowed ordinary people living in Florence to have access to cheaper wine. Thus, the consumption of wine, which was common in Tuscany and especially in Florence, was further developed. Wine has become one of the dominant factors on the cultural and economic life of the region… However, the plague epidemic that started in 1629 and the quarantine measures that emerged after it caused the retail sale of wine to be banned.
The prohibition of wine shopping due to quarantine measures led to the birth of a special architectural structure called buchette del vino
Buchette del vino, meaning “little wine hole” or “wine window,” appeared on the walls of wine-selling houses in Florence! These windows, which were built in sizes that only a wine glass could pass through, allowed the wine trade in the city to continue during the epidemic period. Florentines who wanted to buy wine would click on the window called buchette del vino. Then the seller would hand the glass over and collect the fee left in front of the window… Thanks to these windows, Florentines were able to maintain their daily consumption and trade habits without violating the social distance rules. So much so that the scientist Francesco Rondinelli, who lived in Florence at that time, wrote that the windows named buchette del vino were a wonderful invention that prevented the spread of the epidemic.
With the decrease of the epidemic, buchette del vino was also out of use
Over the following centuries, the history and origins of these interesting structures were forgotten. Even hundreds of years later, the owners of the houses with small wine windows on their walls could not understand what these structures were. Some buchette del vino’s were bricked up…
In 2016, a man named Matteo Faglia started a study to document small wine windows in Florence.
Researching the origins and histories of the buchette del vinos he is after, Faglia shares the wine windows he has identified on a website. However, according to Faglia’s findings to date, there are over 285 buchette del vino in the city.
Buchette del vino became popular again due to the Covid-19 outbreak!
Italy began implementing quarantine measures similar to those hundreds of years ago in March 2020. Some restaurants and cafes in Italy started to serve either thanks to the existing buchette del vino or by developing a similar system. This interesting structure, which emerged due to an epidemic about 400 years ago, became usable years later due to an epidemic.