Wine Windows in Florence
by LIDIA CASINI BROGELLI
The author of this book, published in the early 21st century, tries to provide a census of the Wine Windows existing in the historical center and "Oltrarno" (Left Bank) zone of Florence. This is a topic which the author believes has been ignored but which should be well considered since Wine Windows played an important part in Florentine culture over the centuries.
In a brief introduction she describes the great interest in wine in the Arno valley from ancient times when the inhabitants were called "Liguri/Villanoviani" up to present times (with the Florentine noble families who still cultivate thousands of hectares of vinyards). The author presents a list of these families and the topographical location of this network of roads and Florentine palaces. The Chapter entitled "The Wine Windows of the Historic Center" is divided into four subcategories: "Wine Windows of the Historic Center," "Peripheral Wine Windows", "Left Bank Wine Windows", and "Left Bank Countryside Wine Windows", describing the streets and town squares where the most Wine Windows are located for direct sale of wine from producer to client.
The author describes the most relevant characteristics of the Wine Windows but the
best feature of the book is the history of the streets and squares, palaces and families where the Wine Windows are located. She recounts not just history but also her personal impressions and the reader can imagine the author shaking her head, dismayed, when she reflects about the families with important towers and palaces who eliminated their Wine Windows in the process of restoring the facades of their homes, remarking that today these particular architectonic features would enhance the building's value.
Brogelli recounts different aspects of the antique traditions of wine making in the city and its accompanying countryside, highlighting that the importance of this industry paved the way for the appearance of the Wine Windows and their proliferation.
The preface of the book, by Luciano Artusi, describes the socioeconomic context in which the Wine Windows developed, furnishing useful information on the type and quality of Florentine wines produced and sold either directly by the producer or through intermediaries in wine shops and taverns. He also describes the Winemakers Guild which controlled and monitored this important commerce.
This is a pleasurable book to read and is a useful guide in this field for identifying and admiring the various Wine Windows in the center of Florence. The only defect of the book is that the index does not assist in deepening the reader's knowledge of the palaces, streets and
Lidia Casini Brogelli, Le buchette del vino a Firenze
Semper, Firenze 2004, 184 pagine
individual Windows. However, this book contains an error in the subtitle, in referring to the Left Bank (Oltrarno) of the city of Florence as a separate entity from the historical center. Obviously the Oltrarno is part of the historical center--affirmed as such even by UNESCO.
However, the Florentines themselves often distinguish between these two parts of the city which are divided by the river Arno - the Right Bank which is the Center and the Left Bank which is the "Bohemian" Oltrarno - so the reader can understand why the author has committed this particular anomaly.
Massimo Casprini, I Finestrini del vino
Firenze 2005, n. ed. 2015 con addenda, 114 pagine
Casprini recalls a Florence which is now almost completely lost, describing a time when it was like a large village where one could sit and rest, trying a glass of wine purchased from the Wine Window next door and gossip, discuss or debate every evening.
Through many citations of varying provenance such as Grand Duchy proclamations, deliberations, comments from personal diaries, poems, etc., Casprini provides much information which is analytical and coherent in terms of the social history of Florence in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s, the centuries in which Wine Windows were the most heavily utilized.
Casprini's book has a list of the existing Wine Windows in the city of Florence within a limited area, as well as a photographic index with a brief description of each Window.
The author is not certain when Wine Windows began to be used in Florence, considering the hypothesis that they originated in the 1300s as undocumented. He guesses that the Windows may have begun in 1532 when, after the fall of the Republic, the Medicis returned to power in Florence and the Wine Producing Sindicate gradually began to fail. The first documention of the direct sale of wine in bottles in the palaces of the families producing the wine is in 1559, but does not mention the existence of the Wine Windows.
There are other hypotheses regarding the termination of their use. An elderly shepherd, Richetto, who worked in southern Tuscany, assures us that the Wine Windows were still in use in the early 1900s. Giulio Caprin, director of the daily Florentine newspaper, La Nazione, in the late 1940s, says that by 1953 the habit of ordinary citizens buying wine by the bottle directly from the producer through the Wine Windows, had ended. Apparently in the half-century which produced two World Wars and two post-war periods, something happened in Florence to halt this flourishing commerce, but exactly what occurred is still a mystery.
Nevertheless, the lack of an answer to this particular question does not diminish the value of this book, which is fundamental to anyone wanting to know more about Wine Windows in Florence, since it satisfies the reader's curiosity and furnishes adequate responses to most of the questions regarding this topic.
Not just in Florence
by MASSIMO CASPRINI
The author recounts that he was moved by curiosity to investigate the typical Florentine use of Wine Windows (the direct sale of small quantities of wine through apertures in the palaces of the wine-producing families in Florence). He resuscitates the antique Italian term for these apertures, calling them "Finestrini" which means Windows in English.
Casprini asks the typical journalistic questions of Why, How, When and Who created and utilized these peculiar architectural features. He reconstructs, through an analysis of documents, the history of Wine Windows in Florence, taking into consideration the role of wine in the relevant periods studied (although some questions remain unanswered).
For example, in the period of the Grand Duchy of Florence, many medicinals were fabricated from wine components. He says that the "nectar of the gods" was measured using the Italian terms of "cogna," "bigonce" and "some": meaning vats and loads or weights. He describes that wine was stored in casks and small vats, but that it was sold mainly in glass bottles of various quantities, the bottom of which was covered with woven straw ("fiaschi"). These could be one-fourth liter, one-eighth liter but were primarily in one-half liter ("metadelle") units, whose form with a rounded bottom and short spout, could easily fit through the Wine Window.
Buchette del Vino
via della Pergola, 48
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.