Postcard From Italy No. 2–High Speed Chase Through Vasari Corridor

 Notes from travels earlier this summer

… and now another note (8.11.14) asking you to bear with us as we work to recover images lost in the Massive Russian Computer Hack of August 2014…

In our last episode, our hero, aka His Grace my husband, was foiled by his devout but conniving wife in his valiant attempt to visit Italy without darkening the door of a single church. T’was a tale of betrayal and deceit, with beautiful scenery and a great lunch: (Postcard No. 1, here)

 The Vasari Corridor, image via The Florence Art Guide

This week, we follow the footsteps of the Medici in Florence via the forbidden Vasari Corridor, the passage of which our hero strives to complete in record time. Back when Medici roamed the earth, the corridor was their private walkway from the Uffizi (Italian for offices) across the Arno, to the Pitti Palace.

The Medici, alas, no longer roam the earth on account of the last one was gay and loathed  his wife–less-than-promising circumstances for producing heirs. No, ol’ Gian Gastone de’Medici turned instead to a life of “alcohol, gambling, witticisms and orgies,” whereupon soon enough, “his smelly bed became the center of his existence,” according to Joan’s, which may be my new favorite website.

Another new favorite site is, the next best thing to being there, and where we begin this week’s installment.

The Birth of Venus, painted in 1486 by Sandro Botticelli, commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco Medici.

Standing in line at the Uffizi, I am struck by the fact that there are no Japanese left in Japan, because they are all in Italy. This would actually be an excellent time to visit Japan, because you’d have the place to yourself.

Is it my imagination, or does the Duke of Urbino vaguely resemble my husband? Is there some ancestral cosmic consciousness that led me to call him His Grace? Even though he’s from Iowa? Does anybody know any Urbinos in Sioux City?

The Duke and Duchess of Urbino, by Piero della Francesca, via

See the Uffizi’s greatest hits here. There are so many! If you go, buy tickets in advance and hire a guide. We used One Step Closer, whose principals are native Florentines, and they were wonderful. They also arranged the Vasari Corridor visit, which must be done by special permit and separate fee, as it is not open to the public. Well la-dee-da. But in fact you do get  quite special treatment when your guide mentions to the guard, “Vasariani…” Like Moses at the Red Sea it was.

Going from the jostle and shove of the magnificent Uffizi galleries to the hushed stillness of the private Corridor is dramatic and affecting, as are the 700+ paintings including the largest collection of self-portraits in Europe, dating from the 16th century to today. Astounding.

The Vasari Corridor, image via

It is about here, ladies and gentlemen, that His Grace breaks into a trot… 

View of the Ponte Vecchio from the Vasari Corridor, where the Medici could look down on the little people. Image via

…gaining momentum for the final sprint toward the Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace where the corridor exits.

At this rate he could be the first human to break the sound barrier. Too many paintings can do that to a fellow, not to mention too many churches…

The Medicis’ private balcony overlooking the nave of Santa Felicita. Image via

 Allora, HG’s effort to break the world speed record for the Corridor Kilometer is thus cruelly thwarted by his lingering and lethargic wife, who pauses at the Medicis’ private balcony overlooking, you guessed it, a church.

Is there no justice for HG? Find out next time, as we visit Siena…, home of the world’s wildest horse race, though no match for HG hurtling through Vasari…

Note: Though admittedly difficult to top G. G. de’Medici’s smelly bed–here are a few more interesting sites and posts about Florence… The aforementionedUffizi.orgFlorence Art Guide  is also good, and here is a very nice overall post on Florence in Culture Vixen HEREThe Florentine is an English language magazine, and Visit Florence is a good overall site albeit with advertising and commercial links.

For more from my “Postcard From…” series, enter keyword “postcard” in the search box.

Enjoy, ciao, xox Frances



  1. Florence is my favourite city and the Uffizi is my favourite art gallery. Haven’t been there since 1990. Thanks for posting!

  2. This piece is wonderful Frances!! I laughed till I cried about the Japanese! I lived in Italy my senior year at RISD back in 1976 and this brings back so many memories of all the spectacular art we saw! one of my favorites is at the Medicis library the Dawn & Dusk statues by Michelangelo… moving and you can see those pretty darn quick!
    xoxoxo Laurette

  3. You are such a clever writer! I haven’t seen “His Grace” in years, but I couldn’t stop laughing, picturing him sprinting through the treasures of Florence and that picture of the Duke of Urbino is priceless! I am so happy that you are having such fun together and thanks for sharing it with me.

  4. This just in from a reader: “I just finished reading Dan Brown’s book Inferno which was set for the most part in Florence with the finish to the book in Venice. It’s practically an architectural tour of Florence with lots of commentary on the Vasari Corridor!”

  5. Love, love, love Florence. It’s worth noting that initially butchers hocked their hocks under the corridor on the Ponte Vecchio. But the Medici’s didn’t love the awful smell of offal as they marched back and forth along the corridor…so they decided jewelers would make better neighbors…which is why you still see jewelers there today. HG surely would have sprinted faster had it smelled nasty too! xo, J

    1. Well thank you for that interesting tidbit Miss Julie. I think the 17th century was just smelly in general, don’t you? But I wonder if HG would sprint faster past the smells or the jewelry… ;o xox F

  6. Frances, Loved this story! You have the most delightful way of telling a story. I hope His Grace did manage to have a wonderful trip.
    xo, lissy

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