a new Cultural Association in Florence
The Prince of Vintners by Diletta Corsini
The direct sale of wine from small windows in the noble palaces of Florence must have appeared to foreign visitors on the Grand Tour as a very singular characteristic of our city.
Not only the brilliant Lady Morgan (see the following article by Corinna Carrara), but also other English writers passing through Florence, have remarked upon the wine windows. Tobias Smollet said, shortly before the arrival of Pietro Leopoldo, that although Florence was densely populated, it seemed that there was very little commerce of any type.
FALSE WINE WINDOWS
Lady Sydney Morgan (1783 - 1859) was one of the most
controversial Irish authors of her time due to her diary/book
"Italy", published in 1821, in the wake of her successful novels.
Along with her husband, Lady Morgan went on a Grand Tour
commissioned by her editor, Colburn, who wanted to publish
the impressions seen and described by her. "Italy" recounts
just that, the disastrous political, economical and social situation in that country: causing heated diatribes and
even being baned in the Church States. It was impossible to discuss this book in public or even display it in Bookshops; whoever had shown an interest in the 'liberal ideas' of the author risked arrest! Whilst in Italy the audacious Lady Morgan did not hesitate to emphasize that the Papal/Noble alliance had only produced poverty and distruction there. She was a staunch supporter of the Napoleonic Refoms and a spokeswoman for values of liberty and equality; sardonically describing the habits of local landed gentry, earning for herself a good number of enemies within the more conservative environments!
Whilst in Florence Lady Morgan described in her cutting way the use of wine windows!
This is what she wrote about direct wine sales:
The Wine Windows Association was founded to draw attention to these fascinating apertures in the old palaces in Florence and surrounding Tuscan cities. The scope of the Association is to protect and to help citizens and tourists to appreciate these unique architectural features which are particular to the Florentine culture.
What are Wine Windows? They are small openings in the facades of many large houses and palaces in Florence, through which, over the course of three centuries, millions of bottles and glasses of local wine were bought and sold. The wine was sold directly from the producer to the consumer, rather than using a go-between tavern or wine-seller. This unique commercial enterprise, which is particular to Florence, was the result of the imagination and invention of wine producing families in Tuscany who had residences in the city of Florence.
The Wine Windows Association was created to emphasize this unique reality, and to protect these antique apertures from demolition, damage and disrespect.
The Association intends to do a census of the existing Wine Windows, to assist owners in protecting them, restoring them, or even uncovering them—as some have been removed, destroyed, covered up.
We welcome you to peruse this website, which has the intent of inciting your curiosity about these very special architectural features in Florence.
President, Wine Windows Association
THE WINE WINDOWS WEBSITE AND ITS CONTENTS
The intention of the Wine Windows website is to communicate, share, collect and show to the public all the information available regarding the unique Florentine Wine Windows. The Wine Windows have several different Italian names: “buchette” (small holes), “finestrini” (small windows), or “tabernacoli” (tabernacles). We will indicate where they still exist and search out their histories and diffusion in Florentine culture, with the aim of enhancing their value, helping to recuperate them when they have been removed, and to protect them from further damage.
The website is easy to use. The Home Page has various titles and links to recent articles, notifications and book reviews regarding Wine Windows, which will form a permanent archive of the existing information regarding these architectural features.
The Who and What section talks about our Association, its goals and initiatives, with the intent of encouraging participating from the public.
The Maps section shows the locations of the Wine Windows in the city of Florence and its surroundings.
The News and Highlights section will contain updated information which will be published over time, with a List of the various Windows, a photograph and brief description.
The Documents and Photos section contains a Photo Gallery of the most important and beautiful Wine Windows, which will be given a number as part of our census. These will be updated regularly.
The Contacts page serves for viewers who wish to contact us with requests, or who wish to participate in the association or provide information.
Two postcards: one from about 1965 with three views of Via Palazzo dei Diavoli where one or more Wine Windows are visible. The second shows the same scene in 2015—no more Wine Windows!
NOT JUST "BUCHETTE"
These unusual architectural features: “buchette”, in the Florentine palaces have been given many names over time, an interesting indication of the richness of the Italian language.
Here are some of the Italian names and if you know of any others, please let us know:
NICCHIE PORTE DEL PARADISO
Il sito, gestito dall'Associazione Buchette del Vino, è online dal 30 marzo 2016.
I testi sono a cura di Diletta Corsini, Matteo Faglia, Mary Forrest, salvo dove diversamente specificato.
This website is managed by the Wine Windows Association (Associazione Buchette del Vino).
The text has been prepared by Diletta, Corsini, Matteo Faglia and Mary Forrest, except when otherwise indicated.
Buchette del Vino
via della Pergola, 48