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Italy revives ancient tradition of ‘wine windows’

Restaurants and bars in Florence are reviving the ancient Italian tradition of wine windows, which were used during the plague, to aid social distancing.

Down the hatch: An Aperol Spritz served through a wine window in Florence. Photo c/o The Wine Window Association
Wine time! Photo c/o The Wine Window Association

As reported by The Independent, wine windows are being used at a number of venues in Florence, including Osteria Delle Brache Brache in Piazza Peruzzi and Babae in Piazza Santo Spirito, to allow drinks to be served at a distance.

While the windows were traditionally used for wine, today everything from neon orange Aperol Spritz cocktails to tiny espressos and bowls of ice cream are being served through the hatches.

According to Florentine scholar Francesco Rondinelli, wine windows rose to prominence in 17th century Florence as a means of preventing the spread of the plague in the city.

If you were in need of a refill, you could knock on the window’s wooden shutter and tavern owners would fill your flask with local wines made by the likes of Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli through the window to avoid direct contact.

The first written record of wine windows being used in Florence dates back to 1634, but they gradually became defunct and many were lost during the floods of 1966.

The Independent reports that customers used to pay for their wine by placing coins on a metal pallet, which the vendor would disinfect with vinegar.

According to The Metro, over 150 wine windows have reopened in Florence.

The windows, known as ‘buchette del vino’, are looked after by the Wine Window Association, which was created by three Florentines in 2015.

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