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Florence’s Uffizi Gallery will be reopening a “secret” corridor to the public in 2021.
The gallery’s Vasari Corridor, which spans the upper level of the Ponte Vecchio and connects the museum to the Palazzo Pitti, will undergo construction and safety upgrades to bring it up to code for tourists again, Uffizi director Eike Schmidt said on Monday.
Until its sudden closure in 2016, when it was dubbed unsafe by the city’s fire department, curious visitors were able to book tours through the corridor through private companies for about €45 a pop, the Local reports. The corridor is home to an elite collection of artwork — mainly self-portraits — that date back to the 16th century.
Schmidt said that once the renovations are complete, the passage will be open to the general public.
“We wanted everyone to be able to enjoy this extraordinary heritage, and in total safety, offering visitors the opportunity to walk through the heart of Florence’s art, history and memory,” Schmidt said at a press conference on Monday, according to the Local. The gallery expects to get about half a million visitors to the corridor per year.
Over the course of the construction project, it will get new emergency exits, air conditioning, LED lighting and security cameras.
The Vasari Corridor was built in 1565 for the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici to celebrate the marriage of his son, Francesco. It was designed by Giorgi Vasari and largely used as a passage for the aristocratic family to travel between their palaces and offices across the city’s Arno river, while avoiding mixing with the common masses of Florence.
Featured photo of Ponte Vecchio by DEA / S. AMANTINI/Getty Images.
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