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Vino Sans Virus: Italy Revives Medieval ‘Wine Windows’ to Combat Corona

How do you keep Italian wine swilling in quarantine? With Medieval Wine Windows of course.

Credit: Bruchette del Vino

Culture is a wonderful thing. Look at the image above, take a moment, what do you see? ‘An Aperol Spritz’ you say, ’emerging from a pint-sized gateway’. Aperol it is, but why? Why is this happening?

As a Brit the answer seems obvious: awkwardness. No more will I feel compelled to ask a stranger ‘busy one tonight?’. No more will I have to justify my thirst for strawberry woo woos. No more will I be unable to decide between ‘thanks mate’ or ‘cheers bud’ and say ‘chanks budmate’. Those days are… still going, because in Italy these alcoholic windows aren’t a smalltalk saviour, they’re a medieval plague defence. Like I said, culture is a wonderful thing.

To discover the origins of these windows we must picture early 17th century Florence. The Italian Plague of this period will claim up to one million lives and, just like now, people are scared. However, just like now, people are thirsty for something to take the edge off, enter ‘Wine Windows’. Near contactless, over 150 such holes-in-the-wall helped Florentines have the best of both. No plague, no sober, no problem.

Now, centuries later, Italy is fighting another plague, one that has infected over 250,000 and killed over 35,200. As the country recovers these windows re-opening is significant. They aren’t just an innovative solution to Coronavirus, they’re a reminder of what has been survived before, and what can be endured again with a glass of wine in hand. With that in mind here are some of the best windows to visit, be it for wine or something softer.

1. Vivoli Gelateria: seeking something sweet? Say no more, the Vivoli Gelateria has been serving artisan ice cream since the 30’s (Credit: Vivoli Gelateria)
2. Babae, Via Santo Spirito: Coffee? No problem. Head to Babae for a fresh cappuccino or, if you change your mind en route, opt for one of their wines (Credit: Bruchette del Vino)

3. Osteria delle Brache: what’s that? Still eyeing up that Aperol Spritz from the top? Osteria delle Brache have you covered: enjoy.

With the world looking unlikely to be virus free for some time, getting through the next few months is just as much about small scale adaption as praying for a silver bullet. Italy’s ‘Wine Windows’ are exactly that, using our history to tackle new challenges. I’ll be watching their progress eagerly, with more than part of me hoping to see my local take notice.

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