In the 14th century, Europeans lived in fear of the plague and demanded life across the continent. By 2020, Europeans face the threat of the coronavirus, a pandemic that has killed more than 728,000 people worldwide.
Although much about life has changed between the two cataclysmic health crises, one thing has not: humanity’s thirst for wine.
Between the wrath of black death in the 14th century and the Italian plague of the 17th century, wine merchants in the Italian region of Tuscany built “wine windows”
The socially remote precaution was premature.
“It’s pretty amazing, because people did not know about bacteria at the time,” said Mary Forrest, one of the founders of the Associazione Buchette del Vino, or Wine Association. The association is a non-profit organization that was founded five years ago to document and protect the historical structures. “People did not know where the plague came from; they did not discover it until later, she says.
Windows have fallen out of fashion over the centuries, but the coronavirus outbreak has inspired their comeback. Companies in Florence are reopening their wine windows to sell wine, cocktails, gelato and coffee, Lonely Planet reported.
In May, Osteria Delle Brache posted a restaurant and carried photos on its Facebook page of an employee who passed an Aperol spritz through his wine window, marked with an Associazione Buchette del Vino bronze plaque confirming its authenticity. “We continue the traditions,” it says in the post.
Travelers looking for the historic wine windows can use the Associazione Buchette del Vino interactive map that marks the sites of famous landmarks. The map is updated almost every week, as people hear about their project and contribute. Forrest says they have documented at least 150 in central Florence alone.
Forrest says she is unsure whether the trend will be able to continue to grow because many of the wine windows are not in companies, but in former palaces that are now offices and private family homes. But regardless of whether the wine windows continue to function after the pandemic, travelers can admire them for their individuality.
“It does not seem to be the same,” says Forrest. “There is infinite variety in this very simple thing, and [it] makes you realize that the human imagination knows no bounds. “
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