Thousands of tours scrapped as secret Uffizi passage shuts

A secret passage in Florence's Uffizi gallery was shut down by the fire brigade over safety concerns on Monday, which experts say will cost tour guides tens of thousands of euros.

Thousands of tours scrapped as secret Uffizi passage shuts
The Vasari Corridor was built in 1564. Photo: Mathrong

The sixteenth-century Vasari corridor, which links the Uffizi to the Florence's Pitti Palace, contains some 700 works of art. But it has been closed due to its excessive internal temperatures and lack of a fire escape.

While the corridor is not open to the general public, private tour operators have been taking groups of visitors through the tunnel for a cost of €45 per person since 2010.

But groups were forbidden from entering the corridor with immediate effect on Monday, following an inspection by the fire brigade.

The inspection was carried out after a group of museum workers and tour guides expressed their concerns about its safety.

“With the sudden closure, thousands of tours have been cancelled and tens of thousands of euros have been lost, putting as many as ten jobs at risk,” head of Florence's tour operators' association, Pier Carlo Testa, told the Florence newspaper, Il Tirreno.

“These tours have been going on for years. The passageway is hundreds of years old and in summer it's always hot in Florence… but that hasn't deterred tourists until now.”

While at the moment the cancellations will only affect private tour groups, the corridor's closure also scuppers plans to open the tunnel to the general public, which were drawn up by the museum's newly appointed German director, Eike Schmidt, earlier this year.

The corridor is expected to be closed until October at the earliest.

It is not yet known whether the pictures that line its walls, which include one of the world's most important collections of self-portraits, will be moved to a different location.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man found dead in a hotel room in Florence was named by Italian media on Sunday as British former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man was found dead on Saturday in the Hotel Continentale after a woman he was with cried out for help, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Italian news outlets have identified the victim as Ricky Bibey, a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors and St Helens. Police have yet to confirm the dead man’s identity.

Super League tweeted it was “saddened to hear of the passing of Ricky Bibey”.

“We thank Ricky for his contributions to the game and send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends during this time”.

A maid rushed in to find the 43-year old woman bleeding heavily from serious injuries, and she was rushed to hospital, La Nazione daily newspaper said.

Bibey, 40, appeared to have died of a heart attack, it said.

Other guests at the Continentale, just next to the Tuscan city’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, reportedly heard shouts coming from the room.

Police seized objects including items possibly used in an erotic game, La Nazione said.