The Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor, 1565) was commissioned by Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (r. 1537-74) to celebrate the marriage of his son and heir Francesco to Joanna of Austria. The wedding took place on December 18th, 1565, and the corridor, which takes the form of an elevated covered passageway, was built between March and November, an incredibly short period of time for a structure that is almost a kilometre long. Its designer was Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) and its purpose was to link the Palazzo Vecchio, the duke’s power base, with the Palazzo Pitti, the duke’s new residence.
The corridor crosses the river by way of the Ponte Vecchio, where it runs along the top of the bridge on the eastern side. At the south end of the bridge Vasari came up against an obstacle in the form of the 12th century Torre dei Mannelli, also known as the Capo di Ponte.
The Mannelli family strongly objected to the demolition of their tower and, surprisingly, their objection was not overruled. Vasari had no choice but to design the corridor so that it wound its way round the outside of the tower.
The corridor then continues on the final stage of its journey, passing in front of the church of Santa Felicita (where the Medici family could follow services unobserved) before reaching the Palazzo Pitti.
The Corridoio Vasariano was kept for private use until 1866 when it was first used for the exhibition of works of art.