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Vasari corridor – a secret passage above Florence

Did you know that there is a secret passageway that passes above Florence, from the Palazzo Vecchio, over the Ponte Vecchio and to the Boboli Gardens? If you look at the Ponte Vecchio from the outside you can see a row of windows all along the top; look at where those windows continue on either side. That is the Vasari Corridor.

Inside the Vasari corridor [Photo credit: Darren & Brad on Flickr]
Inside the Vasari corridor [Photo credit: Darren & Brad on Flickr]

The Vasari corridor was built by the architect and art historian Giorgio Vasari for his client Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici in 1565. At that time, Cosimo worked at the Palazzo Vecchio and lived at Palazzo Pitti with his family. Passing through the streets could be dangerous (and dirty!) so he had this passageway built. It has bonus features like a view into the church of Santa Felicita, just beyond the Ponte Vecchio, so that the Duke could assist in the mass from this private, unseen space. And did you know that the jewelry stores on ponte vecchio are there because previously there had been meat shops along the bridge (handy for throwing scraps into the Arno); the Medici however found this to be rather stinky (think the days before refrigeration), so they kicked out the butchers and called for goldsmiths, which was more appropriate to the princely family. The corridor in its present state houses the Uffizi's collection of self-portraits that have been donated over the years by artists. At the end there are portraits by relatively modern artists like Chagall. There are amazing views out of the corridor onto the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno - take a look at the photos I took out of the windows! 

[The Corridor will remain closed for works of safety regulatory compliance. In case there is any news, we'll keep you posted!]