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“La Peste,” the Italian plague, or “surplus wines” were the two most common responses we received when we asked about wine windows in Florence.
These peculiar little windows built into palatial homes jumped out at us while in Florence exploring the local food specialties.
Curious and intrigued by this Tuscan tradition, we spoke to locals and visited several Florence wine windows.
In this guide, learn about the “what are, where to find, and how-to” wine windows Florence.
If your travels take you to Florence, use this guide to discover wine windows, one of the city’s unique treasures.
What Are Wine Windows in Florence
Wine windows also called buchette del vino, are a Florentine invention that spread to other cities in Tuscany.
They are peculiar openings built into old majestic aristocratic families homes. The wine windows are typically set within a stone frame with a small wooden door that is used for the direct sale of wine.
In size, these small windows are about 23 cm wide and 36 cm in height (about 9 in × 14 in).
This opening was large enough to allow people to buy wine in a fiasco, the traditional bulbous Tuscan wine bottles.
Today, the Florence wine windows association, or Association Buchette del Vino, estimates more than 180 wine windows in Florence.
Though there are many hundreds more believed to have dotted the city in the middle ages.
Many wine windows in Florence are also said to have been lost in the great flood of 1966, the most devastating since 1557.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For a fun way to discover Florence wine windows while enjoying food and wine, check this Oltrarno food and wine tour. We truly enjoyed this tour where we ordered from one of the most famous wine windows. The other highlights were diving into bistecca alla fiorentina and other local specialties paired with local wines.
Origins and History of Wine Windows
These small windows with wooden doors where you could buy wine date back to the Renaissance period. This is when Cosimo de Medici became the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Many wealthy families are said to have been unhappy with his rise to power. And, to appease them, he passed a law allowing the families to sell wine from their vineyards in the Tuscan countryside tax-free.
For locals in Florence, this law was popular as they now had easy access to affordable wine. By knocking on a tiny window at local nobles palaces, they could refill their wine bottles with cheaper wine.
In the 1600s when the bubonic plague, Black Death or “La Peste” hit Florence, a significant part of the population died.
These tiny windows with wooden shutters became a safe way to buy and sell wine directly with little contact.
And, “at the time,” according to Roberto, a local Florentine we talked to, “the medieval period was rampant with fights between noble families.”
And, the “small windows built into fortified buildings provided some safety while buying and selling wine.”
Rebirth Wine Windows in Florence During the Global Pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic, wine windows in Florence once again reverted to their original use for social distancing.
As Italy was emerging from the global pandemic, enterprising businesses in Florence started using their buchette del vino, or little windows, again.
This was to sell wine and also gelato or coffee with minimal contact with their customers.
This trend has continued, and while in Florence, we made a point to uncover and visit all the working wine windows to date.
Areas to Find Wine Windows in Florence
The old Florentine tradition of wine windows is very much a part of the city’s history and architecture.
There are two main areas to find wine windows of Florence. The first is in the Old Town or historic center.
This is the area with iconic landmarks like the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio.
It’s easy to miss the little windows in this area as the historic buildings are quite breathtaking.
Across the Arno River, in the bohemian Oltrarno district is the other main area where you’ll find the wine windows.
This is the Santo Spirito neighborhood where we stayed while in Florence
Florence Wine Windows Map
The Wine Windows Association of Florence or Buchette del Vino Cultural Association was created in 2015 to preserve this unique Florentine cultural heritage.
A running list of wine windows is available on their website. They also provide a useful printed map that showcases all the wine windows in Florence.
That said after we dived deep into wine windows during our Florence visit, there are a few updates to mention.
The beer restaurant, Smalto Firenze is now closed. As well as Osteria delle Brache where Fishmood is now operating.
Gelateria Vivoli served gelato through their wine window during the pandemic. And, when we visited to taste their gelato, it was served directly inside the gelateria. We were told the window wasn’t in use at this time.
If you want to dive deeper into the world of wine windows, check out the Wine Windows Association book about windows in Florence and Tuscany available on Amazon.
How Many Wine Windows Are Open in Florence
While in Florence, we found 7 working wine windows. Depending on when you visit the city, more or fewer may be open.
Here are where to find the city’s famous working wine windows.
This bistro and wine bar was the first to reopen its wine window before the global pandemic. Located in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, it is one of the most popular wine windows.
Wine is served in glasses, and you can also get Prosecco or Aperol.
2. Osteria Belle Donne
Tucked on a narrow cobblestone street not far from the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, is a tiny window tucked into a pale yellow-colored wall. Above the wine window are flowers in pots, and along the sides, banners with the name of the place.
There is no bell, and to order, you need to knock on the little door.
Red, White, and Rosé wines are available and served in elegant wine glasses. Enjoy your wine and people watching on the street as this wine window attracts tourists.
The wine is from Tuscany and is very easy to drink.
3. Cantina de’ Pucci (or dei Pucci)
Set within the thick walls of a historic 16th-century palace, you’ll find this wine window at street level next to the stairs leading down to the Tuscan restaurant.
When this Florence wine window is open, you’ll see a wine bottle on the inside indicating that you can order wine.
As Cantina dei Pucci is a restaurant, you can order wine off their wine list through the window.
On the outside is a small patio where you can enjoy your wine.
4. Il Latini
You’ll find Il Latini on quaint cobblestone pedestrian-only side street in the historic center.
The working wine window is near the entrance of this popular Florentine restaurant.
Look for the potted plants hanging about the wine window and order a glass of the house wine from the Latini family.
This is one of the most charming spots to enjoy wine directly from the wine window.
5. Fishmood Pietra Bianca
In the open and airy Piazza de Perruzi, the site of a former amphitheater is the seafood, restaurant Pietrabianca by Fishmood.
On the cobblestones in front of the restaurant is a sidewalk chalkboard with an invitation to ring the bell and order a drink from the wine window.
In addition to glasses of wine, you can also get cocktails like Gin tonic Moscow Mule, Margarita, Mojito, and others.
You can drink outside in the piazza, though note your drinks are served in plastic cups.
6. Fiaschetteria Fantappié
Look carefully in the middle of Via de Serragli in Oltrano for a small window with dark brown wooden doors. Located nearby to a lavanderia, this little wine widow opens up when night falls.
It’s one of the few wine windows with a bell where you can ring for a glass of wine. It’s attached to a wine bar with seating on the exterior which makes it difficult to easily see the window.
This is a popular spot with locals, and if the outdoor seating is full, there is an overflow space with chairs and tables where you can enjoy your wine.
7. DiVin Boccone
The wine window is more like a regular small window with barbed railings. You can buy wine from the little doors but only a bottle or a fiasco. There is no drinking allowed outside on the streets.
If you want to order just a glass of wine, you can drink it downstairs in their quaint wine cellar.
To keep up to date with wine windows check the website and get the map from the association Buchette del Vino.
How To Order From The Wine Windows
If the wine window is closed and the business it is attached to is open, simply knock on the tiny door for service.
Alternatively, if the wine window has a bell, pull the chord and ring the bell for service, and someone will take your order.
What You Can Order From The Wine Windows
From the buchetta del vino or wine windows in Florence, you can get a variety of wines. The wines are generally from Chianti or Tuscany region, in keeping with the cultural heritage.
White, Rosé, or red Tuscany wines are available, and some wine windows also offer Prosecco and a variety of cocktails. Babae has an unusual Orange wine available as well.
In Spring 2023, the 7 wine windows that we visited are not selling food or anything to eat. Their focus is on selling wines and drinks.
As the bartender at the wine window at Osteria Belle Donne told us, “to eat, you come inside the restaurant. For drinks, you can enjoy outside.”
Locals we spoke to told us on many occasions that tourism in Florence is back up again post the global pandemic.
Given the number of tourists we saw, it is not surprising that restaurants would prefer to have people eat in, rather than serve food from the windows.
Prices of Drinks
The prices of wines from the wine windows range in price from €5 to €8 (approx. $5.5 -$8.9).
Prosecco, Spritz, and cocktails also range from €7 to €10 (approx. $7.8 – $11.13).
You can pay by cash or credit card, either at the wine window or inside the restaurant or bar.
Florence Wine Windows Tours
The Wine Windows Association of Florence offers tours in Italian or English, though not frequently. The best is to check with them via email: infobuchettedelvino.org as availability varies.
Alternatively, to experience a wine window in Florence, we recommend taking an Oltrarno food and wine tour available almost every day.
This food and wine tour, which we took and enjoyed, takes place at sunset, in the atmospheric Oltrarno district.
One of the highlights of this tour is stopping for a glass of wine from one of the most famous wine windows.
Digging into Florentine food specialties and exquisite wines makes this one of the best food tours for Florence wine windows experiences.
Have you heard of wine windows of Florence before? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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