The Path of the Prince
THE DUKE COSIMO I, THE UFFIZI AND THE VASARI’S CORRIDOR
In 1565 the Duke Cosimo I realized the most spectacular of his projects: a corridor that united Palazzo della Signoria with Pitti Palace which had been bought, enlarged and embellished by his wife Eleonora from Toledo, the daughter of the viceroy of Naples under the Spanish crown. This private walk was an “aerial scene” that would amaze the distinguished guests and the Florentine population, demonstrating the greatness and the magnificence of Cosimo. The duke also surely evaluated the practical advantages of this path, which allowed him to move without an armed escort and provided him with a rapid escape route in case of necessity.
The construction of this private walkway was entrusted to Giorgio Vasari, the architect who had already managed the building of the Uffizi, the seat of thirteen guilds and Magistrates. In his book “Ricordanze” Giorgio Vasari stressed having finished the path “in less than five months things that no one believed possible in five years. The cost was eleven thousand scudos”.
There is no information regarding the desplay as part of Vasari’s Corridor in the times of the Medici: there were probably some paintings displayed, or perhaps statues, busts and ancient sarcophagi. Since the nineteenth century the Corridor Vasari has been used for the exposition of works of art. Nowadays, in the first part, we find Caravaggesque artists from the beginning of the 1600s such as the Dutch painter Gerrit von Honthorst, Bartolomeo Manfredi... It was the anti-conformist Grand Duke Cosimo II who had Caravaggio’s followers come and work in Florence and for the Medici.
Other famous painters whose works are on display are: Guercino, l'Empoli, Margherita Caffi, Borgognone, Giusto Susterman, Baciccio, Battistello Caracciolo, Carlo Dolci, Giuseppe Maria, Crespi, Rosalba Carriera...
Furthermore, on the tract above the bridge Ponte Vecchio is to be seen the collection of self-portraits, collected by Cardinal Leopoldo. The Medici asked several then living artists for their self-portrait and also acquired self-portraits of artists of the preceding century. At present, this collection of self-portraits is still been enlarged and is the largest collection of self-portraits in the world.
Today it is possible to visit this spectacular and unique museum again. We recommend this visit to those who are passionate art lovers and who are interested in discovering the most secret sites of Florence.
Booking for the visit of Vasari’s Corridor
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