Florence, a city renown for its art and history, is also a gastronomic hotspot. Wine was once sold by all the noble families in the city and this long relationship with good wine and food continues to this day. Discover Florence by the glass with this guide for wine lovers.
When you think about Florence, you mostly think about the Renaissance, Michelangelo’s David, Ponte Vecchio and Piazzale Michelangelo. Just to name a few of the main attractions. But do you know that Florence is the perfect destination for wine lovers too?
As a matter of fact, Florence and the Florentine people have a strong relationship with wine. It started centuries ago. In the Middle Ages the first official organization of winemakers and wine sellers, the Arte dei Vinattieri, began. And in the late Renaissance, the first “buchette del vino” appeared, which were commonly used until the beginning of the 20th century.
What are Buchette del Vino?
If you’ve ever been to Florence you will have noticed small little windows next to the main doors or below the main windows of the grand noble houses. These are the “buchette del vino” or “finestrini del vino,” literally translating as small doors or small windows for wine.
These ancient kiosks were used to sell wine to locals since most of the noble families in Florence owned land in the surrounding countryside where they would make wine. Think about the renowned Florentine Antinori and Frescobaldi families which still make wine today. Selling wine through the buchette had specific regulations, including hours of operation and the size of bottles. In fact, the distinct small size of the buchette is a specific design; the windows needed to be discreet but be large enough for a fiasco, the wine bottle partially covered with a straw basket that is traditional to Florence.
This method to sell wine was so diffused, that in Florence you can still count more than 150 buchette del vino! Although unfortunately none of them are still in use.
Vinaio and Fiaschetteria, drink like a local
Besides the buchette del vino there were other common places to buy and drink wine such as vinaio and fiaschetteria, wine shops similar to enotecas. Both of which are still very popular in Florence’s city center.
A Fiaschetteria, literally a shop for wine bottles, is where you bring your own wine bottle (fiasco) or barrel to refill with your preferred wine. The wine, vino sfuso in Italian, is not bottled and is often table wines for everyday use. Hyperlocal, these shops persist as important slingers of wine in the city and are in a renaissance period due to their innate eco-friendly nature. The ancient model of buying wine on tap!
A Vinaio is more like Florentine fast food. These tiny shops sell wine by the glass, alongside Florentine street food. Chianti and crostini ai fegatini, bolgheri and bruschetta. More social in nature, the vinaio are a fantastic way to imbibe like a local while meeting locals.
Where to drink wine like a local in Florence
To help you truly have a Tuscan Grand Wine Tour experience, the best vinaio and fiaschetterie are explored by borough. Keep your eyes peeled for bottles of Saffredi from Fattoria le Pupille and Bolgheri from Podere Sapaio. Try to spot the most picturesque buchette del vino in each place!
San Giovanni Borough
This is the area between the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, as well as the streets surrounding it. San Giovanni takes the name from the Baptistery of Saint John, located in front of the Duomo, and its official color is green.
- I Due Fratellini, Via dei Cimatori, 38/red – A historic vinaio since 1875
- Fiaschetteria Nuvoli, Piazza dell’Olio 15/red – It used to be a fiaschetteria then turned into a vinaio on the street level and a trattoria in the wine cellar
- Buca del Vino in Borgo degli Albizi – this street is full of buchette del vino; at number 17, the small window is now a unique mailbox
The Borough of Santa Maria Novella
This borough is the area from the train station to the Duomo. Santa Maria Novella takes the name from the Church of Santa Maria Novella and its official color is red.
- Il Vinaino, Via Palazzuolo, 124 – turned into a small trattoria, it used to be a wine bar
- Vinaino Fiorenza, Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini 4/r – another very typical vinaio very close to the Medici Chapels
- Buca del vino in Via del Giglio 2 – this is the most complete and most picturesque buchetta del vino of Florence
- Buca del vino in Via delle Belle Donne 2 – this peculiar buchetta still displays the original plaque with opening hours
- Buca del vino in Via del Trebbio 1– This is one of the most famous buchette, because of the word “Vino” written on it. It used to be the buchetta del vino of the Antinori family
The Borough of Santo Spirito
This borough is known for its more rustic charm, as the ‘real’ Florence. It is located on the other side of the Arno, i.e. in Oltrarno. It stretches from Porta San Frediano to Porta San niccolò, taking the name from the Church of Santo Spirito and its official color is white.
- Fiaschetteria Fantappiè, Via dei Serragli 47 – still a real fiaschetteria where you bring your wine bottle to refill with wine
- Lampredottaio Simone, Piazza de’ Nerli – for the typical panino with lampredotto and a glass of Chianti
- Buca del vino in Via de’ Bardi 31 – this buchetta still preserves the original marble plaque with “Cantina” written on it
- Buca del vino in Via Santo Spirito – this street is full of buchette del vino and the one at number 25 generally displays works of street art
The Borough of Santa Croce
Last but not least, Santa Croce stretching from the Church of Santa Croce to Piazza Beccaria. It takes the name from the Church of Santa Croce and its official color is blue.
- All’Antico Vinaio, Via dei Neri 74/red – according to TripAdvisor is the food shop with most reviews in the world! It’s famous for the combo of wine and schiacciata;
- Semel, Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti 44 – tiny wine shop selling very good paninis
- Buca del vino in via Isole delle Stinche 7 – this buchetta is now owned by the famous Gelateria Vivoli, who maintains all conservation and upkeep
- Buca del vino in via del Proconsolo 10 – one of the best preserved buchette del vino.
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