Vasari Corridor Receives Funding to Reopen

The Vasari Corridor is a passageway atop Ponte Vecchio that connects the Pitti Palace with Palazzo Vecchio

Thanks to a one million dollar donation from the Edwin L. Wiegand Foundation, the Vasari Corridor atop Florence’s Ponte Vecchio will reopen in spring 2024 according to Uffizi director Eike Schmidt.  The Vasari Corridor, which once housed the world’s most extensive collection of self-portraits by famous artists throughout the centuries, closed in 2016 due to the lack of exits and fire safety precautions.

In 1565, Cosimo I de’ Medici was faced with a dilemma: how could he get from his palace to the government building without being seen in public? He commissioned the Vasari Corridor, named after its architect Giorgio Vasari, an elevated passageway that connects Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo Vecchio and passes over Ponte Vecchio. Accessibility of the corridor was relegated to special tours and events only, making the passageway far less explored than its nearby tourist destinations. Originally, the walls of the corridor were lined with self-portraits by famous artists, some of which have being moved to the Uffizi.

The new rendition of the corridor is not planned to contain paintings due to exclusion of flammable substances, strictly off-limits as a result of the fact that the corridor contains no fire exits or air conditioning. Instead, the corridor will contain historical Greek and Roman marble epigraphs, which have been occupying storage space in the Uffizi after being discontinued in 1919. The corridor will also display a series of frescoes from the 16th century. The passageway will even have rooms dedicated to commemorate two separate incidents. One, the Night of the Bridges, was when the Nazis occupying Florence destroyed the bridges in Florence (except for Ponte Vecchio) to slow down the Allies advances as the Nazis were retreating (August 4, 1944). The other is the Via dei Georgofili bomb blast, which was planned by the Mafia (May 27, 1993). Both of these attacks heavily damaged the corridor, hence the planned commemoration.

The four objectives of the reconstruction are to improve structural safety, set up fire prevention regulations and create new emergency routes, increase accessibility with elevators, and geothermal air conditioning. Work on the path began at the end of 2021 and is projected to be finished by May 2024 on the anniversary of the Via dei Georgofoli explosion, resulting in five victims and damage to paintings in the Uffizi.  (Daniel J. Capobianco)