In Florence’s Santo Spirito neighborhood, you can grab a glass of wine in the traditional Florentine way. A new restaurant, Babae, has reopened one of Florence’s once-ubiquitous wine windows. While most buchette del vino have long been sealed up, buying wine through a window was once a regular part of local life.
In 1559, Cosimo de’ Medici decreed that noble families could sell the wine from their vineyards directly out of their palaces. Anyone on the street could knock on the windows built into the façades of the Renaissance palaces to indicate they wanted to purchase wine. A servant would take the customer’s empty bottle and their payment, refill the bottle down in the cellar, and hand it back out to the street.
But as the centuries progressed, the noble palaces were sold and turned into hotels or apartments. By the 20th century, grabbing a bottle of wine through a little window on the street was only a memory.
But Babae has brought back the tradition by opening their wine window to the public. From seven to eight each evening, Babae hosts their “L’ora della Buchetta,” where they serve glasses of their wine by handing it out to the street.
Even outside the “hour of the wine window,” you can pass by and peek through past the little wooden door at a tradition that almost was stuccoed-over in time.
Know Before You Go
Babae is closed Monday, and so is their wine window. Ring the leaf-shaped bell for service.