Image by Georgette Jupe Lonely Planet
This 1km-long covered passageway connects Palazzo Vecchio with the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti. It was designed by Vasari in 1565 to allow the Medici to wander between their palaces in privacy and comfort. In the 17th century the Medici strung it with hundreds of artworks, including self-portraits of Andrea del Sarto, Rubens, Rembrandt and Canova. Closed for renovation in 2017, the Vasari Corridor will be open to guided tours once work is complete; contact Florence Town or Caf Tour & Travel.
The original promenade incorporated tiny windows (facing the river) and circular apertures with iron gratings (facing the street) to protect those who used the corridor from outside attacks. But when Hitler visited Florence in 1941, his chum and fellow dictator Benito Mussolini had big new windows punched into the corridor walls on Ponte Vecchio so that his guest could enjoy an expansive view down the Arno from the famous Florentine bridge.
On the Oltrarno, the corridor passes by Chiesa di Santa Felicità, thereby providing the Medicis with a private balcony in the church where they could attend Mass without mingling with the minions. Stand in front of the Romanesque church on Piazza di Santa Felicitià and admire the trio of arches of the Vasari Corridor that runs right above the portico outside the otherwise unnotable church facade. Inside, walk towards the altar and look backwards to see the Medici balcony up high (and imagine the corridor snaking behind it).