Tuscan "Wine Windows," useful during 1600s plague, useful again

Interesting history factoid.

Over the centuries, Europe has suffered through plagues, pestilence and the Black Death.

When Italy became the first Western country to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Florence discovered that one of its unique architectural quirks was perfect for coronavirus-era social distancing.

Originally created so wine makers could sell the product directly from their homes to people in the street. But later…

A century later, the wine windows became indispensable during the plague that devastated Florence, killing thousands. In an official chronicle of the 1630-1633 plague, Relazione del Contagio , Faglia says Grand Ducal librarian Francesco Rondinelli wrote that “wine windows had been very, very useful to sell, not just wine, also other foods, without touching the seller.”

During Italy’s harsh coronavirus lockdown imposed in March, wine windows suddenly became useful again.

At the Vivoli café, an artisanal ice cream landmark, its tiny window had long been boarded up, says Giulia Gori, daughter of the owner.

“But during the lockdown, we started using it again,” she says. When the Italian government allowed restaurants and cafés to take orders to go, the café started offering takeout. “The customer rings the bell, places an order and we put the ice cream cup on the sill, avoiding direct contact with the customer.”

It’s not exactly curbside pickup, but is as close as can be approximated in a centuries-old city not designed for cars.

Cool article with some nice pictures.

The Royal Oak in Brockham is doing the same thing. In this picture you can see at the far right of the building one of those split, stable-style doors. This accesses the bar directly, so you can be served “out of the window”, as it were. (The photo kind of suggests that it’s in regular use, but I don’t remember that at all.)

Anyway, in these days of COVID, you can buy your drinks the “window” and take them onto the adjacent village green, which has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in England. No need to set foot inside the pub. Relatively risk-free drinking. This is the only pub I have been to since March!