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a new Cultural Association in Florence

Another one in Borgo degli Albizi

 

 Ricciardo Artusi, scholar of Florentine history, is an expert at finding wine windows, especially those which are embedded in the ancient wooden doors of Florentine palaces. Two years ago, (as noted in our Diary of 2016 on this website), he noticed the image of a wine window beneath a thick layer of paint in the main door of the famous Palazzo Medici Riccardi. He has now discovered another, in Borgo degli Albizi, 21, in the entrance door of a palace which carries the family crest of the Albizis. That makes the sixth wine window discovered in this ancient Roman street, equal to the number appearing in Via Santo Spirito. There are now 146 wine windows in the historic center of Florence, but we hope that others will be discovered in the future.


July 15, 2019

Wine Windows outside Tuscany?      

                                         by Diletta Corsini

 

Thanks to Vilma Ortolani, who notified us through our Facebook page, we have learned that the small Emilian city of Faenza also has wine windows.

These wine windows are not exceptionally old, but neither are they new - arising in the first half of the 1800s, as hypothesized by Marco Bassi, expert tourist guide of Faenza.



Free Wine from the

Wine Windows                   

by Diletta Corsini

 

    Here are some of the questions regarding Wine Windows about which we are uncertain how to respond:

    “Was it possible to buy olive oil directly from the producer through the wine windows, or only wine?”

    “Was it possible to buy vin santo as well as normal wine?”

    “Is it true that the wealthy Florentine families would leave a glass of wine and a plate of food in the wine window for a

poor person to enjoy?”

HOW MANY ARE THERE?

FALSE WINE WINDOWS

Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli speaks about Florence and then Rome            by Alessandro Cambii

 

    There are numerous writers who, having visited Florence and become curious about the small doors found in the large palaces, have written about these Wine Windows, but Giuseppe Gioachino Belli plays a special role among these for three reasons.


                             The first is that he was a writer from Rome and visited Florence in

                             1824, leaving a precise testimony of the Wine Windows in his “Prose di

                             viaggio” (Travel Writings). Belli says that in Florence wine is sold on the

                             ground floor of all the large palaces and many houses, through a small

                             rotund opening in the top part and closed with a wooden or iron door,

                             complete with a knocker. The small window is opened from the inside by the cellarman or porter or general factotum who is given an empty flask or bottle and some money in exchange for filling the flask with wine.

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.



    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.



Matteo Faglia

President, Wine Windows Association

Who is Lady Morgan,

and why is she saying those

terrible things about us?


by Corinna Carrara


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...

A Well-Hidden Wine Window        by Diletta Corsini


   At first I wanted to entitle this article “The Houses of the Spirits”, after the famous book by Isabel Allende, a well-known storyteller. The reason was that the search for wine windows often results in mysterious coincidences and serendipity, leading one to think about the playful intervention of supernatural beings. For example, the last two wine windows we discovered were both carved out of the shutter of the front door and hidden by subsequent restoration. It is understandable that the most visible wine windows have already been noted and counted. Those which are less visible remain to be discovered. The amazing thing is that the two most recent discoveries were in buildings in piazzas of the same name but in different cities: Piazza Santo Spirito in Pistoia and in Florence.


   The newest discovery in Florence is in the Guadagni Palace, situated at the corner of Piazza Santo Spirito, the most well known of the piazzas on the “left bank” of the Arno in Florence. The Guadagni Palace contains a beautiful porch constructed with horizontal beams which served as a model for many Florentine palaces. This magnificent Renaissance palace, constructed in the early 1500s for the Dei family and decorated by Andrea del Sarto, remained in the possession of wealthy gold merchants until 1683. It was then left to Buonomini di San Martino who sold it to the Guadagni family, whose crest it bears, and then was inherited by Dufour Berte in 1837.

 

   To discover the wine window it is necessary to turn the corner to the side of the palace on Via Mazzetta, n. 10, the old entrance of the “Thouar”, which was perhaps the first public library of the city. On this door you can see a small, covered opening, as shown in the photograph.  Behind the small door, at the top, you can see an arch which is the remains of a wine window which has been closed up. The dimensions and height of the opening demonstrate that this was a window used for selling wine to the public. Unfortunately also the internal part of the door has been modified, the small shutter has been sealed up and painted. Only a ghost of the antique wine window of the Guadagni Palace remains.

 


THOSE STRANGE PORTALS

A Glimpse Into The Past

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!

W W Nomenclature

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:


BUCHETTE               FINESTRINI

TABERNACOLI            PORTICINE

MOSTRE                 SPORTELLINI

NICCHIE                PORTE DEL PARADISO

FINESTRUOLE            PORTICCIOLE

BUCHE                  FINESTRINE

PORTICELLE             .............


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

Associazione Culturale

via della Pergola, 48

50121 FIRENZE


0039 0550503936


info@buchettedelvino.org