Plague-era Wine Windows are Back in Use

Everything old is new again

Passing food and drink through a small window, touchless payment, disinfecting.
Sound familiar?

In the early 17th century, 1629 – 1633, there were bubonic plague outbreaks in Italy. In response, merchants used tiny “wine windows” to sell their wine without having to come in contact with customers.


The website, Buchette Del Vino describes it like this:

[It was] reported that wine producers who were selling their own wine through the small wine windows in their Florentine palaces, understood the problem of contagion. They passed the flask of wine through the window to the client but did not receive payment directly into their hands. Instead, they passed a metal pallet to the client, who placed the coins on it, and then the seller disinfected them with vinegar before collecting them. Wine purveyers also attempted to avoid touching the wine flasks which were brought back to them by the client, in two different ways. Either the client purchased wine which was already bottled, or the client was allowed to fill his or her flask directly by using a metal tube which was passed through the wine window, and was connected to the demijohn on the inside of the palace. So, the wine merchant either filled new flasks for direct purchase or placed the demijohn in a slightly raised position so that the wine would flow down the small metal pipe into the client’s bottle.

Those plague-era “wine windows” are in use again because of COVID-19. This time, you can get ice cream through those little windows.

There are 146 wine windows identified in Florence, Italy.

Check out the Buchette Del Vino site or their Instagram page to see more photos.


Image: Buchette Del Vino