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Florence’s historic ‘wine windows’ have reopened in response to COVID-19                 Source: Buchette Del Vino

Historic Wine Windows Reopen in Italy, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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The bubonic plague, otherwise known as the Black Death, originated in Asia during the late Middle Ages and spread north into Europe through the bacteria Yersinia pestis on infected fleas. To counter bubonic plague, much like today’s situation with coronavirus, 17th-century Italians in Tuscany built 'wine windows, or ‘ buchette del vino,’ which were holes with hatches carved into the concrete walls of urban wine producers who served customers at safe social distances.

The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 AD (the Great Plague of Milan) was a series of bubonic plague outbreaks that ravaged northern and central Italy claiming an estimated million lives, or about 25% of the population, adding to the one-third of Europe’s population that died at the time.

Wine for sale the writing in stone says in Italian from the ancient days when ‘wine windows’ first appeared during the bubonic plaque in Florence, Italy (Buchette Del Vino)

Contactless Historic ‘Wine Windows’ Appear Again in Tuscany

It wasn’t quite clear what these historic ‘wine windows’ were originally used for until a new one was built this year. Consequently, under the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Italy’s historic ‘wine windows’ are open again in Italy for the safe purchase of vino and other things.

The Italian Wine Window Association website says that while the Italian population is currently confined to home as the government permits a gradual COVID-19 reopening “during this time, some enterprising Florentine Wine Window owners have turned back the clock and are using their Wine Windows to dispense glasses of wine, cups of coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream - all germ-free, contactless!”

A variety of the ‘wine windows’ found on the old streets of Florence (Buchette Del Vino)

Speaking with Insider, Matteo Faglia, the president of the Wine Window Association (Associazione Buchette del Vino in Italian) said that within Florences walled city more than 150 wine windows exist, many of which are permanently filled. Faglia went on to say that people used to knock on the little wooden shutters and have their wine bottles filled directly from the Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli families: three aristocratic historic Florentine families synonymous with wine in Tuscany who still produce some of Italy s best-known wine today.

Historic 1966 Florence Flood Destroyed Many ‘Wine Windows’

Alongside the stone holes in walls many wine holes were lined with wood but most of these were lost in the 1966 flood of the Arno river in Florence which killed 101 people and destroyed countless art masterpieces, rare books and wooden wine windows. The Wine Window Association has now begun the process of mapping these forgotten and often lost artifacts throughout Italy s wine country, “marking them with a plaque to designate their import and authenticity” to raise awareness of these historic architectural features.

According to the World Health Organization Italy lost 35,000 residents in the first wave of COVID-19, and a report in the New York Post states that ‘in spite of this tragedy, the world has witnessed the culture and camaraderie that likely helped Italy through the medieval epidemic.’ The article also reports that at the height of their national coronavirus outbreak, ‘choruses of Italians could be heard singing in solidarity through open windows and on rooftops with a glass of wine in hand all the while.’

What Could Go Wrong With 2020’s Historic ‘Wine Windows’?

It is alarming when reporters around the world celebrate Italian culture for their love of wine without a single mention of how the consumption of alcohol contravenes current COVID-19 medical advice. A recent Euro advisory paper presents the known facts about the consumption of alcohol and COVID19 stating: ‘Alcohol use weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases, leaving aside the fact it is known to cause certain types of cancer, alter thoughts, judgements, decision-making and behavior.’

The world’s health experts are telling us to “avoid alcohol altogether,” so that you do not undermine your own immune system and risk the health of others. Perhaps over drinking is one of the factors that contributed to Italy being hit so badly hit by COVID19. The alcohol consumption problem got so bad in Italy in April that the country’s Health Ministry had to publicly debunk a dangerous social myth that claimed ‘alcohol is a good a method to boost the immune system.’ And in a statement the Ministry stated, ‘alcohol consumption increased the risk of infection because alcohol weakens the immune system and therefore reduces the body's ability to cope with infectious diseases.’

Thus, no matter how “safe” receiving wine from a ‘wine window’ might be, the population of Tuscany is weakening its resistance to COVID19 with every sip of wine. And they should be reminded that it was wine producers that told the world a glass a day is good for you and not doctors.

Top image: Florence’s historic ‘wine windows’ have reopened in response to COVID-19                 Source: Buchette Del Vino

By Ashley Cowie



Hello Ashley,

That's an interesting part of history; to come and learn about regarding the Wine Window's throughout, Tuscany. Now I know where drive thru windows originated.

Tuscany will make a fortune if they were to do that with Espresso Coffee or even olive oil.

I once saw a program that unfortunately I can't remember the name of it I just remember that it was produced by PBS it came on T.V. on a Sunday night. Historians, and Medical Scientist's, each shared their thoughts and reasonings, about The Black Death.

What stays with me too this day is that according to the Medical Staff there was two virals that impacted the people one part of the disease was Fatal the Scientists named this
fatal Viral from the Black Death.

Apologies, I can't really remember it's name much less the name of the second Viral apart of the Black Death that wasn't Fatal, unlike the First Viral.

The part that I can remember is where the Nursery Rhyme Ring-a-Round the Rosey began and it has a different word usage in the Nursery Rhyme; that people whose ancestors survived the second part of The Black Death well these Scientists...right sometime... in the 90's, began seeing that people, who had AIDS somehow through Genetics inherit; I guess one should call them Black Death chromosomes?

Are maybe Cell's?

Okay, so The Black Death Cell's Killed the AIDS Virus somehow.

I was somewhat concerned because for me; it told me that the Scientists, were actually messing around, with The Black Death.

On the other hand; if it can kill the AIDS Virus, and that was our only shot with eradicating AIDS Virus then, I guess we should at least try (I would not recommend experimenting with the black death for COVID-19).

Then George Floyd is murdered live on camera, in Minnesota, that moment of course reminded me of something else that took place in Europe; at the Time of The Black Death rapidly killing people, antisemitism.

Much of Europe believed that Jews caused the Black Death despite the fact that just as many Jews were dying from the dreaded diesase as Whites/Gentiles in Europe.

I learned from the History Channel that Germany was the head of those attacks bloody murderous attacks on Jews no wonder they flogged themselves demonstrating The Passion of Christ, (perhaps they should have read their Bible's about Love Thy Neighbor) on Jews.

In my Western Civilization Text Book that was assigned to me by my Ethnic Studies, Professor that in Italy they burned the Jews alive at the stakes.

Some areas in Italy didn't wait for the Stakes they murdered Jews burned them out of their houses, lynched Men, Women, Children and the Elders, it just didn't matter to them.

Not one person's came forward and said that this was wrong so it's nice to see live on T.V. people say this ain't right, this is not happening for Floyd and others whose lives were snuffed out so horribly.

This is what I've been thinking a lot about in regards to the current Pandemic we're all forced to reckon with.

Thank you for sharing this article Ashley can't wait to read more of your articles Goodbye for now.

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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