Www.facebook The Vasari Corridor of Florence

The Vasari Corridor is a “monumental urban footpath ” that runs from the south side of Palazzo Vecchio to Pitti Palace. It was commissioned from Cosimo I de’ Medici to Giorgio Vasari. These are two key figures that will accompany all the story of the building of the Vasari (until the death of the Vasari, occurred in 1574). The main reason that moved the building of the Vasari Corridor was the marriage of Francesco de’ Medici, Cosimo’s son, with Johanna of Austria.

The building of the Vasari Corridor

One of the marvellous curiosities related to the Vasari Corridor is the fast times that its building required. It took in fact just 8 months, from March to November. Of course at the end of this period the Vasari corridor has not the appearance that we can see today, it was in fact more rough and without the plaster with which it was lately covered.
As it happens with all great projects, the preparatory phase was long. It divided in three parts: drawings, a big wooden model and then the official construction.
The works had their start in the oriental part of the Corridor, that is the one starting from Palazzo Pitti. In the same time also the fragment of the Corridor that runs along the river Arno was under construction, this is the fragment that precedes “Ponte Vecchio”, the most difficult and dangerous part accordingly to Vasari, as the Corridor here is literally suspended, as just the river sustains the Corridor. During the summer of 1565 the works for the western part of the Corridor began. The whole structure finished in November as in December the famous wedding had to be celebrated. Thanks to Vasari and his work, the couple and all the guests could move freely from Pitti to the heart of the city centre.

The style of the Vasari Corridor

Giorgio Vasari chose for the Corridor a simple style, his constantly tried to work reducing decorative elements that he found useless and superfluous. Besides, he tried to reproduce in some parts and in some elements a medieval style, in order to harmonize the corridor with other buildings of the city. This is definitely the case of the Mannelli tower. The tower is an old medieval style just at the end of Ponte Vecchio on the oriental side of the city. The tower represented an obstacle for the passage of the Vasari Corridor that has to pass just in that point to get Ponte Vecchio. The owners of the tower were asked to alter the tower to let the Vasari corridor pass, but they refused. As a result, Giorgio Vasari had to find a solution to let his work to proceed. He solved the problem by building the corridor around the tower, using brackets that sustained the walking path of the corridor. In order to remand to the medieval style of the tower, Vasari used for these brackets a simple style that could harmonize with the tower. The medieval style is not just limited to the brackets of the Mannelli tower, as Giorgio Vasari used the same style also for the pillars of the Santa Felicita church: the style of the capitals is Tuscan-Doric order and they are identical to the colonnade of Ponte Vecchio. Giorgio Vasari wanted balance, harmony and homogeneity for its work, for which he was inspired by the building tradition of the Medieval. Among the building materials, he chose in fact the “Pietra Forte”, a kind of stone very much used during the Medieval: this is a brown stone that was very resistant (this explains its name) that in Florence is found in area of the Boboli Garden. Vasari’s architecture can be defined also as popular, as he intended to reach everyone with its plain style, also the most humble ones. On the Vasari, the little rounded windows have a grill that protrudes towards the external, so that they permitted a most complete vision of the external.

The stretch of the Vasari Corridor

The Vasari Corridor has a length of 1 kilometre, running from Pitti Palace until Piazza della Signoria, the ancient palace. In all the other cities of the old Europe there is nothing similar. We cannot think at the Vasari Corridor as something separated from the rest, as a segment of the Vasari Corridor begins where a corridor of the Uffizi Gallery ends. We can define the Medici family as collectors of sights: the visitor of the Uffizi gallery will immediately understand it by walking through the part of the corridor of the Uffizi that faces on the Arno river, from here there is a splendid sight of a part a Florence. Seeing the city from above is something connected with the idea that during the Renaissance the powerful families had of their palace: they had to be separated from the rest of the territory where they rose. The idea of an “Invisible Prince” comes here back again, and we can see it also in the case of the church of Santa Felicita: the Vasari Corridor as we have seen passes through the church and here it becomes a balcony from where the Medici family could see the religious representations avoiding to merge with the rest of the population. Giorgio Vasari studied the most recent architectures present in Europe at that time. Many are the cases born under the same idea of separation from who had the power and the rest of the rest of the population. In Mantua from San Giorgio castle, built in 1380, a separate passage starts and passes through the building useful for the duke. The same happened in Ferrara after the riots of 1385: Niccolò II ordered a secret passage going from the castle to the ancient residence of the Estense family. Something similar also happened in Turin, where the royal palace was built just on the opposite site where the city extends. However the Vasari Corridor rests unique for its length and structure, and unique for the place it had through the centuries until today.

The Vasari Corridor through the centuries

It is well known that Ponte Vecchio did not host from its early days the elegant boutiques of gold that we see today walking through it.  During the Medici period Ponte Vecchio hosted little shops selling meat. This situation changed when the duke Cosimo began using the corridor and passed above Ponte Vecchio. The terrible smells of the unsold meat that it was abandoned on the bridge or threw into the river was unbearable for the prince of the city. Consequently this selling of meat was stationed in other places and Ponte Vecchio began to change its appearance. The Medici family began to boast this elegant construction that always showed to the important person visiting the city: the 5th of June of 1598 Ferdinando I showed the passage to the archduke of Austria; during the 17th century the Vasari Corridor was shown to the cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, travelling from Modena to Rome. The already mentioned Ferdinando I, son of Cosimo I, always used the passage and often showed it in many occasion, this was also the case of the many banquets and feasts that the Medici organized: during these occasion the guests were invited to admire the beauty that the honoured Vasari constructed. In recent times, but in much more sad circumstances, the Vasari Corridor was showed to Hitler by Mussolini, that ordered the construction of wider windows on Ponte Vecchio so that Hitler could better enjoy the beautiful sight. This was not the unique point of collision that the corridor had with the Second World War: Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge that avoided the bombing. The city of Florence is grateful to Gerhard Wolf that ordered the bridge to be saved from the bombing of the Germans. He was the German diplomatic in Florence and loved art and philosophy. On Ponte Vecchio a marble plaque remembers him. After the armistice the partisans used the passage to get from the south part of the city to the Northern part of the city, controlled by the Germans. In the following years, in 1966, the flood inundated Florence. Some minutes before the flood all the paintings that risked to be ruined were removed and saved from the water. This fortune did not happened again in 1993, where a car-bomb devastated a part of the Uffizi Gallery that faced on Via dei Georgofili, where the bomb were placed. Fortunately, most of the works of arts demolished by the bomb were refunded.
Today the Vasari Corridor hosts more than 400 paintings. The policy of proceeding with the purchase of paintings went on from the Medici to the recent times; this permitted the acquisition of works of contemporary artists like Carlo Carrà, Emilio Greco and Renato Guttuso. 


The Vasari Corridor tour

Looking for a truly unique experience in Florence? The Vasari Corridor is one of the hidden treasures of the city also because access to the Corridor is difficult to obtain. Feel like the Grand Duke on this walk, from his private display of artworks on the top-floor of the Uffizi, along the corridor built by Vasari, crossing the Arno River along an aerial hidden passage over the Ponte Vecchio, you can reach the Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens. Find out why the Corridor was built and what its purpose was. 

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Vasari Corridor Tour

The Vasari Corridor in Florence is a must-see museum for those who want to have an extraordinary experience visiting Florence.
The Vasari Corridor is an hidden, indoor path built by Vasari in 1565 which connects Palazzo Vecchio with the Uffizi Palace and Palazzo Pitti. Visitors can have access to the Vasari Corridor booking a Vasari Corridor special guided tour as to enter the Vasari Corridor visitors must be accompanied by a licensed guide.


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