No place in Italy rivals the wine scene in Florence. The city’s wine culture dates back over 3000 years, and with that came many traditions that still live on today, including the famous wine windows.
With Florence being such a well-preserved city, a lot of these windows still remain. Seeing a tradition that dates back hundreds of years still going strong made me feel so lucky to witness it.
Throughout this post, I’ll go through everything you need to know about the wine windows in Florence, including their origins, what they look like, and where to find the best ones.
A History Of The Wine Windows
As you wander through Florence’s cobblestoned streets, you won’t be able to miss the wine windows. But what’s the story behind these fascinating creations?
Well, they’ve been around since the 16th century, when Cosimo de Medici was in power and wanted to keep the public happy, so he permitted local wine growers who owned vineyards throughout the region to sell their vino without paying any taxes.
Clearly, the citizens of Florence had no issue at all with this because of how cheap wine became due to how readily available it was. They funded the trade, business was booming, and everyone was happy.
During the 1600s, a plague hit Florence that killed 12% of the population. The wine windows were perfect for this because they kept a distance between people purchasing their goods, which is almost what COVID-19 was like.
Today, 285 of these windows have survived and been preserved and can be seen all around the city center, many of them being in the Old Town. While a good chunk of them are operational and still doing business as usual, some have been left idle, fortunately, they’re still well-maintained.
What Does A Wine Window Look Like?
If I were to describe wine windows in one way, they’re like little holes in the wall with mini adjustable flaps that act as doors. Some of them even go unnoticed; they’re that small. Often, the person serving one can only hand out one drink at a time.
One of the features that a lot of them have and that I personally really admire about them is that they’re shaped like a church window with a frame either shaped from wood or stone.
Behind the little doors that cover the front is usually a wine cellar, exactly like it would have been years ago.
Where To Find The Wine Windows In Florence
The good work from the Buchette del Vino Cultural Association has managed to preserve some of the remaining windows and give visitors a deep insight into them and their inner workings.
I have seen the wine windows all over Florence; it doesn’t take much searching to find them, especially if you’re in the Old Town.
Below, you’ll find some of my favorite wine windows for a break stop and a flavorful sip of wine.
Babae was one of the first windows I ever went to; in fact, it was the first company to bring one of these wine windows back into operation. It’s conveniently located on the west side of the Arno river, which tends to be less busy, so you might be lucky and not experience a crowd that’s too big.
I initially remember arriving here at the beginning, and there weren’t that many people around. I did see the window flap open, so I apprehensively walked over, but there was nobody there, only a bell. I tapped it, and immediately, someone was there to serve me; it was so cool to witness.
The person in front of me ordered a glass of the red Sangiovese and said it was delicious, so I ordered that. I found it to be a lot more earthy than a standard red, with some sour cherry aromas and peppery notes.
When I got my glass, the server gave me the option to go inside or stand out on the road near the window. Since the sun was splitting the skies, I went for the latter; it was so peaceful, seeing bypassers going about their day and customers enjoying their fresh servings in a fantastic atmosphere.
Babae (€€) – Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 am to 12:00 am, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am to 2:00 am, Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cantina dei Pucci
Seconds away from the iconic Duomo, Cantina dei Pucci is situated in an ancient 16th-century building and is home to one of the most popular wine windows in the city.
While Cantina dei Pucci is a well-sought-after restaurant in its own right, I noticed when I was here that the main draw was the wine window. I had to line up for 15 minutes to get my glass of wine but believe me, it was worth every second of standing there in the 35°C heat.
The window here was one of the smallest I have seen; I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of the man’s face working there; however, that adds to its charm. There was a lovely little seating area out the front where I could relax with my drink.
I didn’t want to order any food, but I overheard a couple sitting next to me talking between them, saying they weren’t allowed to order food outside and if they wanted to eat, they would have to go downstairs to the restaurant. So, keep that in mind if you’re hungry.
I was impressed by the wine list here; it was enormous, with plenty of whites, rosés, reds, and sparkling options. The Barbanera Toscana Rosata caught my eye, so I ordered a glass of that.
As far as rosés go, it was one of the best I have tried. The taste was very refreshing, with a burst of pleasurable cherry and strawberry aromas on my palate.
Cantina dei Pucci (€€) – Via de’ Pucci, 4, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy – Monday to Friday, 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Osteria Belle Donne
Set close to the famous corner of Via delle Belle Donne; Osteria Belle Donne is a gorgeous two-story hidden restaurant with its own wine window.
When I visited Osteria Belle Donne, I thought they were closed because the doors on the window were shut. Out of curiosity, I went over and knocked; in seconds, the doors burst open, so don’t get discouraged; more than likely, they’ll be serving from the window.
I asked the server working there what wine they recommended, and she said that the Chianti Classico is a customer favorite, so I took her advice and ordered one.
From the first sip, I got a strong cherry and herby taste with a kind of smoky kick; it was quite unusual; I had never tasted anything like it in my life. I would definitely recommend you try it if you’re into red wine and you get a chance.
You won’t be able to miss the wine window at Osteria Belle Donne, not for its size, but more because of the two large wine bottles standing out front covered with lush green trees and big plant pots.
There’s also a sign suspended above the stone-covered wooden door window with the restaurant’s name on it, which gives it away. Just be aware that Osteria serves all of their Tuscan wines outdoors in plastic cups, which some people aren’t a fan of, but I didn’t mind.
Osteria Belle Donne (€€) – Via delle Belle Donne, 16R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy – every day, 12:00 pm to 11:30 pm
My next selection, DiVin Boccone, is a little different from the others in the sense that it’s not a restaurant; it’s more of a local supermarket, but it does have a wine window.
I actually found this place by mistake one day; I was walking past, and I got chatting with the owner and his daughter; they invited me inside to see the wine cellar and brought me around on a little tour, telling me all about the history behind it and how the operations have evolved over the years.
Even though this was a wine window, the owner insisted I have one of his favorite drinks, a liqueur and biscotti.
It would undoubtedly be one of the strongest liqueurs I have ever had; within one sip, my eyes started squinting with a strong burn felt in my mouth. But, after it settled, there was a gorgeous nutty aftertaste with citrus and fennel notes.
Although I didn’t indulge, some people there ordered a charcuterie board that looked absolutely divine. It came with a selection of freshly cured meats, buffalo mozzarella, pecorino, arugula, and a side of bread. After I left, I instantly regretted not ordering one, but it was massive in size.
The friendly owner also has a huge selection of bottles of wine that you can buy from the window. I had a taster of the Nero Di Troia, and it was beautiful, between the floral violet notes and the fragrant body. And how could I forget the slight taste of rosemary that gave it a hint of mint?
DiVin Boccone (€€) – Via delle Caldaie, 20, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy – Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, closed on Sunday
Florence’s wine windows are a sight that leaves a lasting impression on you, even if you’re not an avid wine drinker yourself; seeing the operation that has been passed down through the generations is fascinating.
If you’d like to learn more about Italian wine in general and its huge place in society across the country, you can read our article on Italian wine facts.
Or, say you consider yourself more of a doer than a reader, our Florence sunset food and wine tour will take you to some of the wine windows mentioned in this article to sample some of the finest wines to come from the region.