Faerie Doors

April 6, 2009 / Local Interest
faerydoor1These Lilliputian doors are an odd feature of Florentine architecture. Made of solid wood, sometimes adorned with carvings or iron studs, most with their own key hole to control access, some even with minuscule knockers, it is easy to imagine how these could be the entrances to fairy domiciles.

The truth, however, is much more prosaic. Behind these little doors, the wine lords of Florence ran after hours enoteche (wine bars). A knock on the small door, the bestowing of a handful of coins, and the proffering of ones own mug, flagon or flask would procure a savory local vintage.

faerydoor2At one time, there were hundreds of these tiny portals to viniculture along the streets of Florence, but not so many remain. Some have fallen into neglect, others have been filled in, some have been turned into name plaques, and still others have been used to disguise gas or electric meters.

Even so, it is fun to hunt for them along the streets of Florence. On your next visit to the city on the Arno, make it into a treasure hunt for fairy doorways. The ones featured here can be found at head of Via de Bardi, on the Via del Giglio still bearing the inscription Vendita di Vino (Wine Selling), on the Via de’ Serragli, and on the Via Delle Belle Donne. You may not find any faeries, but you will see a small piece of history most people overlook when they visit Florence.

by Douglas Morris

Author of Open Road’s Best of Italy. He has lived in Italy for over ten years and currently resides in Viterbo. You can contact the author through his website: www.TheItalyGuide.com.

10 Responses to “Faerie Doors”

  1. Allyson

    I always wondered what these little doors were for when I lived in Florence! We used to make up reasons for them… it is fun knowing, but also takes a little of the romance of our ideas out of them now.

    On my next trip, I’ll have to see how many I can find!

  2. Thanks for the note about the earthquake. We are near (150km) but did not feel it.It is tragic to see people like us suffering so dreadfully.

  3. marianna

    How terrible it is for the poor people in the earthquake area. My prayers are with them.

  4. Barbara

    As so many Italians in Italy and across the United States prepare for the upcoming holy week of Easter,let us keep our brothers and sisters of Abruzzo in our thoughts and prayers.


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