The Vasari Corridor: A Hidden Architectural Treasure

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The Vasari Corridor: A Hidden Architectural Treasure

Map of the Vasari Corridor. Photo found on www.florencetown.com

Map of the Vasari Corridor. Photo found on www.florencetown.com

The Vasari Corridor is one of the most intriguing architectural ideas of 1565 in Florence, Italy. It is the elevated secret passageway that allowed the Medici family, among other elites, access to and from The Uffizi, the magistrate offices, and Pitti Palace, the home of the Medici, without ever having to be in the street or be seen.

A bit of history, a bit of gossip

The Vasari Corridor was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, to celebrate the marriage of his son Francesco I to Johanna of Austria, and was designed by Giorgio Vasari, a famous painter and architect who is often referred to as the first art historian.
The Vasari Corridor passing around the Mannelli Tower. Photo found on www.wikimapia.org

The corridor itself is one kilometer (a little over a half a mile) long and was completed within five months. Many residences were forced to give up space in their homes so the corridor could be built. The Mannelli family were the only ones to rebel. They lived in, what was once, one of the four defense towers surrounding the Ponte Vecchio. Apparently Cosimo I appreciated their spirit and let them keep their home as is. The Corridor was built around the Mannelli Tower and stabilized by wall brackets instead.

The butchers who had their shops on the Ponte Vecchio were also forced to move location due to the foul odor of the meat and were replaced by a goldsmiths and silversmiths instead.

There are small windows along the passageway that overlook the Arno. The center windows were enlarged due to their beautiful panoramic view. It is said that on his visit to Florence during World War II, Adolf Hitler was so astonished by the view of the Arno River from this window that he ordered the Ponte Vecchio to be saved from bombing during the German occupation. This is why it is the only original bridge left standing in Florence. All the others were destroyed.

The view from inside the Vasari Corridor, on top of the Ponte Vecchio

The view from inside the Vasari Corridor, on top of the Ponte Vecchio. Photo found on www.visitflorence.com

Passing over the Ponte Vecchio, the passageway then leads to the Santa Felicità Church. There is a balcony that protrudes slightly into the church where the Medici would stop and listen to mass. This let them attend church service without having to mingle with the people. After Santa Felicità Church, the corridor extends along a section of the Oltrarno district with its last stop at Pitti Palace.

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Post by Tessa Cole

2016-08-16T17:30:41+00:00 August 19th, 2016|