Florence is a city of art, history, and culture, but did you know that it’s also a city of wine holes? No, not what you’re thinking. These are “buchette del vino” and used by small wine shops and bars to directly reach their customers.
These foot-tall windows into the world of wine are small openings in the walls of buildings that were once used by Florentine wine merchants to sell their wares directly to customers on the street. The tradition of the wine holes dates to the 16th century, as an alterntvie to taverns and other drinking dens — not to mention a discreet way for merchants to avoid paying taxes on the alcoholic libations they were peddling.
Today, many of these wine holes are still in operation, recently as a social-distancing safety measure but now they’re more of a fun novelty than a necessity. Locals and tourists alike can stop by one of these small shops and enjoy a glass of Chianti or another regional wine, often accompanied by a small plate of snacks, a panino, even some delicious gelato.
One of the first to reopen their little doors was Gelateria Vivoli, one of Florence’s famous ice cream parlours, choosing to use their buchette as a safety measure, and to bring a modicum of joy to passers-by.
If you’re a wine lover visiting Florence, be sure to stop by one of these wine holes and experience a unique piece of the city’s history and a very instragrammable moment. Whether you’re looking for a quick glass of wine or a more leisurely tasting experience, these are a bit of history with a purpose.
Meanwhile in Sydney we might not have buchette del vino of our own, but if anyone comes to my shop, Euro Concepts Sydney, and I’ll personally hand you a bottle of wine through the mail slot and for a moment we can pretend we’re in Florence.