The Vasarian Corridor was built by Giorgio Vasari in only 5 months, on the orders of Cosimo I de’ Medici, on the occasion of his son’s wedding to Giovanna d’Austria.
It is a covered, raised passage which connects Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, going past the Uffizi Gallery and across the Arno.
The Corridor was built to enable the Grand Dukes to go from one palace to the other without having to use the street; this link also gave the Medici family the possibility of flight without being seen in the case of a revolt. The meat market, which used to be held on Ponte Vecchio, was moved to prevent the smell from disturbing the Grand Duke. The Corridor represented the symbol of the Medici family’s power.
Today the Corridor houses works that are included in those of the Uffizi Gallery, some of which have unfortunately been damaged; by bombing during the Second World War; by a flood in 1966; and by a bomb in Via dei Georgofili in 1993.
The collection includes Italian paintings from the sixteen and seventeen hundreds and the largest collection of self portraits in the world.
The route through the museum starts in the Uffizi Gallery and ends in the Boboli Gardens, at Buontalenti’s Grotto. During the construction of the Corridor, Vasari was forced to create a bypass around the medieval Mannelli Tower because the family did not want to pull it down.
It is said that in 1939 Hitler came to Florence and was very favourably impressed by Ponte Vecchio and the Vasarian Corridor; perhaps this is the real reason he saved the bridge from destruction during the Nazi retreat.
On the other side of the Arno, the Vasarian Corridor has a balcony looking onto the Santa Felicita church, so that the Grand Duke’s family could attend mass without coming into contact with the populace.