Florence's Uffizi closes a gallery that wasn't open

 

If the headline seems confusing, so is the situation. Fire safety concerns have forced the famed Uffizi Gallery to close the 16th century "secret" tunnel that links it to the Pitti Palace museum nearby.

After an inspection by the local fire brigade, following concern from museum employees and tour guides, it was ordered shut because of excessive heat and because there's no provision for escape in case of fire.

The Vasari Corridor is lined with 700 works of art, including an important collection of artists' self-portraits. It has never been open to the general public, although the Uffizi's new director has been making plans to let all visitors in. Up to now, it's been accessible only to private tour groups, which have been showing it to visitors since 2010, at fees of €45 per person.

For now, those tours are on hold, at least until October. The president of the local tour operator association isn't happy; he told a local newspaper that "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...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.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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