It's taking airport wine to a whole new level.
The airport in Florence, Italy, doesn’t have as many amenities as Italy’s significantly larger airports in Rome, Milan, and Venice. There aren’t any Hermes stores, you can’t pick up a Rolex before you board, and your dining options are limited to three unremarkable restaurants. But the primarily regional airport is about to undergo a massive, multi-year makeover that will give it a new Arrivals and Departures area, a reoriented runway, and a working vineyard on its roof.
Acclaimed architectural firm Rafael Viñoly Architects has shared the plans for the airport’s transformation, and the rooftop vineyard is definitely the most unexpected feature. According to a press release, the vineyard will include 38 rows of grapevines planted in concrete pots, and it will cover a total area of 19 acres. As of this writing, other details are scarce, but Rafael Viñoly Architects has shared that “a leading winemaker from the region” will be tasked with planting and tending to the vineyard, and the wine that is produced at … er … on the airport, will be aged in cellars located underneath the terminal.
“Florence is a place where things become permanent landmarks because they have a fundamental sense of internal logic and quality,” Rafael Viñoly, who died in March 2023, said of his plans for the project. “Because the airport, which is the door to the city and its culture, is so extremely close to the city center, this must be an urbanistic project, not an isolated design exercise that is divorced from everything but the technical demands of aviation and the competition for passengers.”
In addition to producing wine, the vineyard’s presence will also serve to camouflage the airport’s appearance when it’s seen from the top of the city’s landmarks, including the famous Duomo atop the Florence Cathedral. The terminal will also have a central plaza that will be open to the public just in case visitors get tired of, like, looking at Michaelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery, viewing other timeless artworks at the Uffizi Gallery, or gazing wistfully at the arches of Ponte Vecchio, and would like to experience the Italian equivalent of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.
Although this is an interesting idea, not everyone is sold. “It’s hard to see what’s good about going to this constructional effort so that passengers can view – apart from some glimpses through skylights of actual vines – the underneath of the structure that supports a vineyard,” columnist Rowan Moore wrote in The Guardian. “One wonders, too, about the effects of jet fumes and fuel dumps on the vintage and the practicalities of combining harvests with the functions of an airport.”
Either way, we’ll have to wait a couple of years to find out. According to Italian architecture and design publication Domus, the airport renovation will be completed in two phases. The first is estimated to be finished in 2026, while the other won’t wrap up until 2035. Until then, I sincerely hope that visitors will still be able to find a decent glass of wine … in Tuscany.
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