Good morning everyone on Thursday 18th March. Today is the day when the European Medicines Agency will let us know if the AstraZeneca vaccine that is currently in the bloodstream of tens of millions of people is safe to use. Anything but a resounding all-clear would be a catastrophe at this stage so let's hope common sense finally prevails there.
Yesterday in Italy there were 23,059 new cases of Covid-19 reported; that represents an increase of around three thousand compared to the previous day but I will increasingly focus on comparisons with the equivalent day the week before which show more relevance in terms of a trend. The previous Wednesday saw 22,385 new cases reported so yesterday's figure confirms the feeling that the case numbers are starting to plateau. The heightened restrictions of the red zones and the continued roll out of the vaccination program will hopefully start to see those numbers drop rather than level-off.
Vaccine matters aside, it's a bit of a slow news day today and I will happily skip on to something more interesting. It has recently been announced that restoration work on one of Florence's most historic and unusual monuments will begin after Easter. The Vasari Corridor was built in 1565 by Cosimo I de Medici to allow the incumbent Duke of Florence and his retinue to pass freely between his residence and places of work without having to come into contact with the everyday people.
One can speculate as to whether security was the main priority here or if it was more a general desire to avoid the great unwashed, but either way, the walkway served its purpose. The corridor is a complicated structure that starts its journey on the north bank of the River Arno, in the Palazzo Vecchio. The famous old Palazzo was the place from where Florence's signoria governed the city and the republic before it became a Duchy a few years later. One of the star architects of the Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari, was commissioned to create the corridor which now bears his name.
From the Palazzo Vecchio a small bridge connects the corridor to the neighbouring Uffizi Gallery, with this section of the walkway lined with a number of famous self-portraits. The elevated corridor continues until it reaches the River Arno from which point it heads west along above a beautiful arched walkway before reaching the Ponte Vecchio. The famous landmark bridge is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Florence but most of its visitors are unaware of the elevated section of corridor above them.
The area around the Ponte Vecchio used to be the site of a meat market which had to be cleared for construction of the Vasari Corridor so that the accompanying smells wouldn't assault the nostrils of the VIP pedestrians as they passed. The meat market gave way to the goldsmiths and their shops which are still an important part of the bridge to this day.
The total length of the corridor is around a kilometre and from the Ponte Vecchio it makes its way to the south bank of the Arno where it connects with the Chiesa di Santa Felicità, allowing the dignitaries to worship in peace before reaching its final destination at the Palazzo Pitti.
The Vasari Corridor has been closed since 2016 as some safety work was carried out and after a number of modifications are completed by next May, it will once again take its rightful place among the best sights in Florence.
That's all from me for today. I'll be back with another blog tomorrow but in the meantime I'll leave you with some images of the beautiful Florence.
My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.