The Ponte Vecchio has been the only bridge not destroyed in Florence by the Wehrmacht during their retreat in August 1944.
The Generalfeldmarschal (Field-Marshal) Albrecht Kesselring (Bayreuth, 1885 - Bayer, 1960) was designed, in late 1943, Commander in Chief of the German armed forces of occupation in Italy. Furthermore than the Ponte Vecchio, he managed to avoid the destruction of many artistic monuments and cities in Italy, comprising Rome, Florence, Sienna and Orvieto. He also tried to spare the destruction of Montecassino, but Berlin turned a deaf ear to his recommendations. In 1947, Kesselring was condemned to death penalty. Later, the sentence was changed into life imprisonment. In 1952, due to a serious illness, he was set free.
In 1565 Cosimo I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, commissioned from the brilliant Tuscan architect, sculptor, painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) the construction of a large covered corridor, over one kilometre long, with pretty circular windows, to connect the Palazzo Vecchio - his dwelling at the age- to the Palazzo Pitti, the subsequently residence of the Medici dynasty, in order to avoid the members of the Medici family to cross the bridge when getting from a part to each of the present historical centre of Florence.
Furthermore, Cosimo I de Medici and his wife, Leonor Álvarez de Toledo y Osorio, conceived the building of the Corridor as a present to their first-born son, the Prince Francesco, next Grand Duke of Tuscany (1574 -1578), who in 1541 got married with Joanna of Habsburg, daughter of Ferdinand I, Emperor of the German Holy Roman Empire.
The Vasari Corridor passes over the Ponte Vecchio through the most top of the present Uffizi Gallery, former the site of the offices of the Magistrate Court in Florence.
Giorgio Vasari himself conducted the work which was terminated in only five months.
The architect situated the first doorway to the Corridor in the “Camera Verde” (green room) of the Palazzo Vecchio, which was one of the sumptuous private rooms of the wife of Cosimo I de Medici.
The Vasari Corridor, called as well the “Percorso del Principe” (the prince’s route) was rapidly splendid ornamented. At the present, the Corridor, which links the east and west wings of the Uffizi Gallery, pertains to this Museum.
For the construction of the Corridor, Cosimo I de Medici allowed Vasari to remove all the structures standing in its way, comprising a part of the Church of Santa Felicità and the Manelli Tower, the medieval defensive structure of Palazzo Manelli, situated at the corner of Ponte Vecchio and Via dei Bardi. The Manelli family, which has been for centuries one of the main lineages in Florence, did not give their authorization. The Grand Duke of Tuscany reconsidered his initial position and Vasari, as the Corridor was supported on brackets, continued its construction getting round the Manelli Tower.
The Vasari Corridor houses a large and outstanding collection of ancient Roman statues, coming in the most part from the private Roman collected works of the Medici family, and a splendid collection of self-portraits by Rubens, Bernini, Ingres and Delacroix among others, as well as a fine collection of pictures from the 17th to the 18th century.
In 1969, a part of the superb art collection of the Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (deceased in 1955) which had been entirely donated to the Italian State, was hosted in the Uffizi Gallery. Currently it is displayed in the Vasari Corridor. It is composed of thirty five paintings. Among them the masterpieces: “Madonna con San Francesco e San Lorenzo” by Cimabue; “Madonna della Neve” by Il Sassetta (1432 ca.) “Madonna Pazzi” by Andrea del Castagno (1445 ca.); “San Girolamo” by Giovanni Bellini (1479 ca.) and “Il Torero” by Francisco de Goya (probably painted in 1771 during the stay of Goya in Parma).
Twelve sculptures. Among them there is the marble masterpiece “Il Martirio di San Lorenzo “by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1616 ca.). Forty eight splendid ancient pieces of majolica; eleven big coats of arms created by the Della Robbia family and thirty eight chosen models of furniture from different ages, coming from the Count Alessandro’s real states.
The present entrance to the Vasari Corridor is located in Uffizi Gallery, in Via Lambertesca, 6. It access is very much limited and it is only allowed by booking in advance.
Oltrarno Side of Florence
The Cathedrals : Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Cappella Brancacci, Santo Spirito
Main Monuments : Palazzo Pitti, Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio
Click here for compleate Florence Travel Guide
The Tuscany Travel Blog
If you have recently visited Tuscany or you would like to visit Tuscany we now offer the
Tuscany Travel Blog Here you have the opportunity to share your experience, request information or impressions to other customers, and also become an author of the Blog yourself!