Millions of tourists flock to Florence (Firenze) every year, but only a handful get to take what may well be the best walking tour in the city. Actually, few tourists even know about the existence of the Percorso del Principe (Passageway of the Prince) tour, and even fewer visitors plan their trip sufficiently ahead to make the required prior tour reservations with the museum office!
Called the Vasari Corridor, the passageway lined with treasures from the Medici collection occupies the top floor of the structure sitting on top of Ponte Vecchio and links the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery on one side of the Arno river with the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens on the other side. The Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici ordered the construction of this elevated enclosed passageway in 1564, using a design by Giorgio Vasari, in order to have his own private and secure passageway between his residence at Palazzo Pitti and his office at Palazzo Vecchio. You can see a very detailed history and description of the corridor and of the tour on a 2010 blog posting by the Tuscan Traveler.
The Percorso del Principe walking tour starts at the Palazzo Vecchio, goes thru the Uffizi Gallery, then along the top floor of the Ponte Vecchio, finally reaching the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. Taking this tour is basically the only way for most of us to visit the Vasari Corridor, and the tour is restricted to a few times on selected weekdays (currently Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).
As an aside, it is always amazing to see the long lines of visitors waiting to buy tickets to get into the Uffizi Gallery, because it is relatively well known that you can buy your ticket online before going and, by doing so, avoid all the lines when you show up at the museum. But the real delectable tidbit here is that you can take a very extraordinary tour in Florence, literally walking in the footsteps of the Medicis, if you have the time and the foresight to book your Percorso del Principe tour in advance. It is preferable to call the museum office directly (Tel: +39-055-2654321 or 055-294883) but you can also book the tickets online.
The Percorso del Principe tour is the most unique tour in Florence and consequently is usually sold out months in advance, so plan early. A Delectable Tidbit from BonVoyageurs.com!
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