Curious Florence: buchette del vino

Walking down the streets of Florence you might have seen them: tiny arched shaped doors on the walls of buildings in the city center. Many wonder what they are, even some florentines don't know their history.

They are called "buchette del vino" (litterally "wine holes"), closed with little wooden doors and the size of a fiasco of wine - the glass bottles with the characteristic stuffing, that prevented it from breaking during transport.

They came in use during the XVII century, after the crisis that hit Florence businesses, when the wealthy families of Florence that lived in large houses - or palazzi - in the city center, decided to acquire land and vineyards in the countryside so they could supplement their income with wine retailing. Some of the wine they produced was stored in the cantina near these buchette through wich it could be sold to people in the streets without having to get out of the palace.

Originally intended for the sale of wine, these small doors also proved useful for selling other products: flasks of oil, bags of flour and some sellers even gave salty snacks to their customers to make them thirstier, a practice that was against the law.

Even if they have fallen into disuse, Florence has maintained the wine tradition and some of the noble families that sold wine through these buchette, are still among the great producers of wine in Tuscany today.

Many of these little doors have been sealed up, others have become mailboxes, others are now pretty frames for street art, but you can still see some of them in their original form - like the one at the corner of Via delle Belle Donne and Via della Spada - complete with a marble plaque on which are carved the wine sales times.

Florence is a very special city, not only for its immense artistic heritage, but also for its history which you can discover simply by paying attention while walking down the streets!

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