Have your heard about the Buchette del vino?

ByAndrea Thompson

April 22, 2024

Buchette del Vino, or “wine holes,” are distinctive small, arch-shaped openings found on the facades of some historic buildings in Florence. They boast a rich history and serve a unique purpose, and weirdly not found  anywhere else in Italy.

The origins of Buchette del Vino date back to at least the last decades of the 16th century. During this period, many wealthy Florentine families had to shift their focus from banking and textile activities to wine production. They allocated their land to a more profitable business but needed a “point of sale” so built small windows to sell their bottled wine directly to the public without opening formal shops and incurring taxes.  The production and sale of wine in Florence has always been profitable and a guaranteed income.

The wine windows served the purpose of facilitating the safe sale of wine and food. Amidst the 1630 plague, when Florence was grappling with a health emergency, these ‘buchette del vino’ enabled transactions at a safe distance, preserving the ongoing sale of wine, a practice not just for wine, which saw a resurgence in 2020 during the COVID crisis.

They are small, inconspicuous openings, often adorned with decorative elements. Peppered throughout the city, with more than 180 surviving from the 16th century there could be even more that have not yet been discovered. These wine portals are strategically placed on the facades of buildings, allowing easy access for both buyers and sellers.  Some are still in use today to service wines, cocktails and gelato avoiding direct contact.

They have gained international fame after being featured by actor and food enthusiast Stanley Tucci on his TV show “Searching for Italy.” While in Florence, he uncovered the hidden history of these small openings.

Next time you stroll through the street of Florence, keep an eye out for these charming wine windows where wine meets history.