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Italian wine windows are reopening, reviving plague tradition

Wine windows, or buchette del vino in Italian, are small hatches that were used to sell surplus wine to Florence's working class at the end of the 1400s.

WASHINGTON — Italian restaurants and bars are returning to their medieval pasts in utilizing wine windows.

According to Florence's Wine Window Association, several places across the city are reviving small windows used during the bubonic plague to serve customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wine windows, or buchette del vino in Italian, are small hatches that were used to sell surplus wine to Florence's working class at the end of the 1400s. Typically they include a small wooden door with a high arch.

They're detailed in several publications dating back to the mid-17th century. Many understood the contagion of the plague and used the windows to pass wine to customers. Small metal pallets were also passed through the door to exchange coins for payment. 

Credit: Getty Images/Thinkstock
Detail of an old stone wall with a wine window (buchetta del vino) in a street of the historic centre of Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

While some are using the windows for wine, others have expanded them for serving ice cream and coffee as well. 

"People could knock on the little wooden shutters and have their bottles filled direct from the Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli families, who still produce some of Italy's best-known wine today," Matteo Faglia, president of the Wine Window Association, told Insider.

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Italy was one of the countries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Friday, the country has nearly of 250,000 cases and over 35,000 deaths from the virus.

In the U.S., wineries are also getting creative on how they're delivering during the pandemic. 

A Maryland winery used its store dog to help deliver products to customers amid the coronavirus lockdown.