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PAINTING  IN  ITALY

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VASARI CORRIDOR

The Vasari Corridor is an elevated enclosed passageway in Florence which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti.  Beginning on the south side of the Palazzo Vecchio, it then joins the Uffizi Gallery and leaves on its south side, crossing the Lungarno dei Archibusieri and then following the north bank of the River Arno until it crosses the Ponte Vecchio.  Most of it is closed to visitors.

Hidden between city houses and even passing through a church, the Vasari Corridor has evolved as one of the most astounding architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance.  The corridor is rarely open to the public.

The Pontevecchio, the landmark of Florence, houses the best kept secret of Florence. It serves as a passageway dating back to 1564, when the Grand Duke of Florence, Cosimo I de' Medici ordered his favorite architect, Giorgio Vasari, to built a path that would allow him and the Royal family to move freely from their residence (Palazzo Pitti) to the government palace (Palazzo della Signoria, other side of the river Arno). 

The Vasari Corridor was built in 5 months by order of Grand Duke Cosimo I de'Medici in 1564, to the design of Giogio Vasari. It was commissioned in connection with the marriage of Cosimo's son, Francesco, with Johanna of Austria. The idea of an enclosed passageway was motivated by the Grand Duke's desire to move freely between his residence and the government palace, when, like most monarchs of the period, he felt insecure in public, in his case especially because he had replaced the Republic of Florence. The meat market of Ponte Vecchio was moved to avoid its smell reaching into the passage, its place being taken by the goldsmith shops that still occupy the bridge. At the latter extremity, the corridor was forced to pass around the Mannelli's Tower, after the staunch opposition of that family to its destruction.




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In the middle of Ponte Vecchio the corridor is characterized by a series of panoramic windows facing the Arno in the direction of the Ponte Santa Trinita. These replaced the smaller windows of the original construction in 1939, by order of Mussolini. The larger windows were installed for an official visit to Florence by Adolf Hitler to give him a panoramic view of the river.

Today it houses, along with some of the most important paintings by renowned Italian and European artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, the most important collection of self-portraits in the world.