Florence’s fire department has shut down the famed Vasari Corridor “effective immediately.” The medieval passageway is a hidden gem of an art gallery that is lined with approximately 700 works of art collected by Cardinal Leopold de Medici. The Corridor connects the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace via the Ponte Vecchio and was first constructed in 1565. Now 450 years old, it needs some renovations to bring it up to fire code.
Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt had previously announced a plan to revamp the Corridor—most of which has been closed to the public for years—and make it accessible to all visitors to the museum. Prior to the shutdown, the gallery had been open only to travelers who planned their trips through Italy travel specialists such as Maria Gabriella Landers of Concierge in Umbria, one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts for Italy.
This most recent shutdown of the gallery is not part of Schmidt’s original plan, but the hope is that it will not delay the overall renovation project, which would’ve seen the Corridor refurbished and reopened in October of this year.
The experience is worth waiting for. Wendy has visited the Corridor herself and described it to Independent Traveler: “The Vasari Corridor…was built by the Medicis so they could walk between their workplace and residence invisibly, spying on their subjects from on high. The passageway houses the world’s largest collection of self-portraits by artists, and also provides some of Florence’s best views, but that’s not even what makes it so cool. The thrill is how it makes Florence’s history and secrecy come to life in such a visceral way. As the passageway winds this way and that, growing narrower and darker and more rough-hewn, it feels like you’re walking back in time. Alone in the tunnel with your guide, peering down into the shops on the bridge, into hotel rooms on the river, even into the church balcony that the Medicis used, you feel the power that the Medicis must have felt. Seeing without being seen, you get to be a spy like them.”
There’s no news yet on how long the shutdown will last but, in the meantime, there is plenty more behind-the-scenes insider access that travelers to Italy can enjoy—experiences available through Maria, as well as through our other Trusted Travel Experts for Italy, Andrea Grisdale and villa specialist Mara Solomon. For example, Maria is happy to arrange an exclusive visit to the 16th-century Torrigiani Gardens, Europe’s largest private garden, with the Florentine nobleman who owns it as your guide. Andrea can set up you up in a beautiful mahogany speedboat for a lake tour that will reveal the many of the area’s magnificent hidden mansions and gardens, or get you access to Capri’s secret grottos. Mara will invite you into a local family’s home in Nocelle (a tiny village of 120 souls located high in the hills above Positano) to help prepare a sumptuous feast made of fresh ingredients straight from their garden, vineyard, and olive farm.
What Italy experience would you recommend for other travelers?