One Reason Wine Lovers Should Add Florence To Their Bucket List

Anyone who loves wine and travels to Italy is pretty much in heaven. An age-old tradition sewn into the fabric of its culture, wine-making is at the heart and soul of Italy. In fact, according to Statista, Italy produces the most wine out of all the nations in the world. All throughout Italy, there are a variety of regions with unique grape species and fermenting processes. Out of the best cities in Italy to go wine tasting, one of our favorites is Florence.

The culinary scene in Florence is generally top-tier, so you'll definitely want to check out the best food tours in Florence for your inner foodie. But, if you're looking for wine, not only do they have an incredible selection but they make it easier than anywhere else to get a glass. While touring the city, you'll want to keep an eye out for the infamous Buchette del Vino. In English, this phrase translates to "wine window."

Where the tradition comes from

Today, the wine windows in Florence have become a viral TikTok topic for the city's abundance of tourism content. The hashtag #winewindows has garnered a whopping nine million views. Although it's relatively new to the Gen Z social media platform, this Florentine phenomenon has been around since the plague, and we mean that literally. As This Day in Wine History explained, back in 1559, Florence underwent a devastating economic crisis. In an effort to improve the market, the government began allowing merchants to start selling their wine straight to customers instead of using intermediaries.

This allowed wealthy, mercantile families to avoid taxes. But rather than opening up shop, they created little wine windows from their homes so that locals could hand in an empty wine bottle and have it filled by workers on the property. Initially, the convenient booze stop was called a "sportello," meaning "opening," but eventually, Buchette del Vino became the more popular term.

A means for social distancing

In the 1500s, the Buchette del Vino was created for quick and easy customer service. But, this invention didn't hit peak popularity until the plague hit the region. Over 500 years, cities all across Europe were devastated by the lethal Bubonic plague. As we are all too familiar with, when a disease is transmitting rapidly, one of the best ways to combat its spread is through quarantine. Italy found a variety of creative ways to put this practice in place. In fact, the word quarantine actually comes from the Italian phrase for forty days, "quaranta giorni," per the Centers for Disease Control.

One of the nifty ways they put in place social distancing while keeping the economy somewhat running was through the Buchette del Vinos. Today, you can still spot hundreds of these century-old wine windows. While they largely stopped being used after the plague, their use was revived by several companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While it's likely you'll stumble upon a Buchette del Vino while you stroll through Florence's cobblestone roads, this piece of history is something you definitely don't want to miss out on. To make sure you experience it, you can find a comprehensive list of all the wine windows that are in use today at the official website of the cultural association of the Buchette del Vino.