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In Florence, between via de’ Bardi and the Santa Maria in Soprarno square there is, barely noticeable in the wall, a little doored niche. Above it a sign “Cantina Capponi”. This is one of several surviving street wine bars – ‘buche da vino’ (wine holes).

“The boom in such wine counters began in the seventeenth century, when Florence’s commercial fortunes had gone into decline. Such outlets allowed families who owned vineyards to make extra money by selling their produce direct to the public. The trade was strictly regulated by the authorities – for example, it was forbidden to serve salted bread with the wine to increase a customer’s thirst – and the wine was sold in the sort of straw-covered bottles still seen today (the straw protected the bottles when they were brought in by cart from the countryside). These drinks counters (mescite) were so popular because you could buy wine directly in the street, without having to pay the mark-up charged in inns and taverns; and, of course, the wine producers themselves benefited because they had another outlet for their produce.” Secret Florence (Jonglez Guides)

Photograph: Cantina Capponi Mescite, Florence

cantina capponi mescite

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