Medieval wine windows are re-opening, reviving an old plague tradition

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There aren’t many upsides to living through a pandemic. Whenever a deadly disease devastates society, everyone understandably becomes preoccupied with doing what they can to fix the situation. However, even in the face of disaster, people are more than capable of finding cunning solutions to make life slightly more bearable. 

To find examples of this, you’d normally have to peer back into the annals of plague history. However, in the backstreets of Florence, a tradition that was once used to combat the Black Death is now being repurposed as the nation tackles Coronavirus. 

Dubbed “buchette del vino”, or “wine windows”, this innovation can be seen in historic towns and cities across Tuscany. Essentially, the wine windows work as a hatch onto the street, allowing glasses of booze to be passed in and out without risking exposure to the elements. In recent years, they’ve been considered a historical curiosity. Now, they’re getting a new lease of life. 

According to a recent article on the Wine Window Association website, buchette del vino are playing a crucial role in helping Florentine’s through the current crisis. As the piece, which documents the timeline of the windows explains:

“Covid-19 emergency, lockdown from 8 March, everyone at home for two months, then finally a gradual reopening. Some Florentine locals restore the use of their wine hole to serve coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream, in absolute safety.”

Even though many of the windows were tragically lost during local flooding in the 1960s, the recent revitalisation has been a boon to many businesses. Wine bars including Babae and Osteria delle Brache have made the most of their windows, offering locals and visitors a unique form of service onto the street. Strange times clearly call for special measures.