It’s not cheap and one needs to make an appointment in advance to arrange it, but touring the recently opened Vasari Corridor is probably one of the most singular and exclusive experiences in Florence.
This raised, private passageway was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, so he could make the trip from the government offices in the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi to his residence in Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno River without fear of assasination or suffering the stench and filth created by the butchers and tanners working on the Ponte Vecchio.
The unparalleled project, controversially built right on top of the Ponte Vecchio shops and other spaces considered to be in the public domain, was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1564 and is a total of 1.2 km in length. The unique architectural feat notwithstanding, the interior of the Corridor is the main attraction, adorned with a private art collection of more than 1,000 16th-century paintings by Diego Velazquez, Marc Chagall, Peter Paul Reubans, Rembrandt van Rijn and many others, including numerous artists’ self-portraits.
The Corridor also passes through the upper balcony of the Church of Santa Felicita, so the Medici could worship privately, safely partitioned from the yucky commoners and dastardly assassins.
The Uffizi Gallery manages the Corridor and tours, but tours must be arranged in advance through a private operator.
Even with all this effort and expense, the tours will reportedly seem rushed. Though they are advertised as two hours, groups are only in the Corridor itself for about an hour. The rest of the time is spent observing and listening to details about the Corridor from outside or shouldering though the crowded Uffizi in order to get to the Corridor’s entrance. The tour ends in the Grotto in the Pitti Palace‘s Boboli Gardens.
No photos are allowed inside the Corridor.