Ahhh...the laziness of winter has crawled upon us and at last after watching the last episodes of House of Cards and Lost I now have no excuse but to write a little post ;)
Before retiring for the winter, I went to discover the "Wine Windows" of Florence together with a group organised by the Associazione Culturale Bucchetti del Vino, an association of people who have as their goal to discover, create awareness & protect all of the Wine Windows found around Florence.
We did a 3 hr guided tour around the city center of Florence starting by the noble Palazzo Antinori that you should certainly go see when in Florence (free entry) - you can walk straight inside the courtyard simply to see how one of these palaces look from the inside, or even go for a glass of wine at their wine bar.
So if you find yourself in Florence and you're aware of the Wine Windows, you'll start seeing them everywhere. But beware! Because not all holes in the walls are true Wine Windows. Some were holes where candles were kept to lit up the madonnas (so likely ones that are close to a madonna are fake windows!). So if you want to see a really good example head for the Antinori Palace, take a right around the corner - and there it is, "vino" written right under it - you can't be mistaken. A perfect example of a Wine Window.
Wine Windows appeared sometime around the 17 hundreds in Florence and were installed to allow the free commerce of wine (so without a middleman) - farm to table, so to say. A very modern concept and unique for the time. Typically, the noble families of Florence who possessed land in the countryside traded products, made in their farms by the sharecroppers. Fresh farm produce, and of course in particular wine, passed through these windows on street level of the noble palaces directly to the consumer.
Some Wine Windows are quite decorative, others very simple. Some have a writing with the opening times to the public. Some have been covered up, others are now being used as a mailbox! There seems to be more than 150 Wine Windows in Florence, and they are constantly being unveiled and recorded, especially now that the aforementioned Association has created some awareness about them. You may also find them in other old cities around Tuscany, but Florence is the place with the highest concentration and where you will probably pass by 10-20 just within a 15 minute stroll around. Next time you're in Florence, make sure to notice them!