If you have been to Florence, Italy then you have been on the Ponte Vecchio. That’s the name of the picturesque bridge that crosses the Arno River. It’s one of the standard snapshots that almost all travel and tour companies use to entice their customers to go to Florence.
The bridge is usually packed to the eyeballs with tourists. If you want to take that picture on your own you have to get the timing just right in order to be the only people in the picture. It’s kind of like the Times Square of Florence. Bands play on it, living statues stand on it, and hawkers sell wares on it.
Unfortunately, it’s not the best place to take a picture of the beautiful scenery.
If you look at a picture of the Ponte Vecchio you see above it an interesting long skinny building with arches and little round windows above the bridge. That’s part of the Vasari Corridor. The City of Florence has recently opened up this incredible part of history to the general public.
The Vasari Corridor was named after Giorgio Vasari who was an artist and architect in the 1500s. The corridor was originally built for the Medici family, the wealthy bankers of Florence, who wanted to get from the office to home without the hassle of dealing with mere peasants. The Uffizi Gallery was their office and the Pitti Palace was their home. The Vasari Corridor is a very long elevated hallway connecting the two.
You might wonder what the big deal is about walking through an old hallway. Well, it is filled with magnificent art and the views are spectacular. As you walk through the corridor you are also walking through the history of the Medici family. It doesn’t feel like a hallway. It feels like a really long private room. Good for contemplating the rate of interest to charge for borrowing lire, or pontificating about what the servants might be creating for dinner. When you are looking out the windows of the Vasari corridor you are looking down at the world. The people below are not that far down, but one gets the feeling that they are far beneath you. You feel more like nobility with each forward step.
To begin your tour of the Vasari Corridor you enter through the Uffizi Gallery, and end it at the Boboli Gardens. As you walk through you are not only awed by the art and history, but you are treated to amazing views. That’s when you can take the pictures! You don’t have to quick-snap the picture and hope no one walks through the middle.
The pictures you take are from the Medicis’ point of view. You are looking at everything from a very different angle. Instead of standing on the Ponte Vecchio you are above it.
The Vasari Corridor tour is a fairly new one. It takes about three hours and it’s a bit on the pricey side. But if you are going to Florence it is not to be missed. You can combine this tour with a visit to the Uffizi Gallery or plan on a tour of the Pitti Palace or Boboli Gardens at the end of your tour. You must buy tickets for the tour ahead of time. You can buy them on line from the official museum ticket office or from tour companies like Viator or City Discovery. The tour is not given every day so double-check your dates and times.
When you are in the Vasari Corridor you may be acting like a tourist, but you feel like a Medici!