The famous Vasari Corridor, or Corridoio Vasariano, opens its doors to the public only a few months a year, and only with a reservation and accompanied by a guide. I visited the corridor on a cold December day in 2007.
The Vasari Corridor is a 1500 meters long covered gallery that connects Palazzo Vecchio, via the Uffizi with Palazzo Pitti. After De Medici family took up residence at Palazzo Pitti in the southern part of the city in 1565, the architect Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to build a connecting corridor between the residence of the family and the government buildings so that Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici could quickly and safely move through the city. Remarkably, the corridor passes over the Ponte Vecchio and even through a church, Santa Felicita, that way De Medici family could attend Mass without having to mingle among the people. To avoid nasty smells in the corridor above the bridge all butcher shops on the Ponte Vecchio were replaced with goldsmiths, who can still be found there today.
The inside of the corridor in itself is nothing special with whitewashed walls, brown tiled floor and poor lighting, moreover it was quite cold while I was there. The corridor holds a very extensive collection of portraits by some very famous painters (± 1000) dated from the 16th to the 19th century. There’s even a self-portrait of Rembrandt.
It is not allowed to use flash so the pictures I took six years ago with my old camera are not of the best quality.
I must admit that after seeing so many portraits the paintings started losing my attention and I spent more time peeking out of the windows. The view is absolutely worthwhile and it was very interesting to see the Ponte Vecchio from a different point of view.
Mussolini commissioned the large windows above the bridge in 1939, he personally led Hitler around Florence and a visit to the Vasari Corridor was a highlight. Perhaps due to this visit the Ponte Vecchio was the only Florentine bridge that was not destroyed during the withdrawal of the German troops.
The corridor ends in the Boboli Gardens located behind Palazzo Pitti, right next to the exuberant Cave of Buontalenti.
Click on the photos for a larger view.