Luxury Tours: It seems like every specialty travel agent in America promises behind-the-scenes, VIP-access to unforgettable experiences in the world's most popular travel destinations. However, few can deliver on that promise. Exclusive meetings with the high-powered aristocrats of Europe may turn out to be watered down coffee and biscuits with an over-powdered middle-aged lady on her Roman balcony.
Then again, there are some VIP experiences that live up to the fanfare and are very difficult to arrange without the help of a specialist. Select Italy, a Chicago travel agency that specializes exclusively in Italy, offers such a service: guided visits to Florence's Percorso dei Principi, better known as the Vasari Corridor. This site is officially closed to the general public; operators at the Uffizi box office do not grant reservation requests from individual travelers. Select Italy is the only US travel agent offering this small group tour.
The Vasari Corridor is a hallway that winds above Florence's medieval streets and connects the world-famous Uffizi Gallery to the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. It was designed by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo de' Medici to give this Renaissance ruler easier access to these seats of power. Cutting through existing buildings and crossing the Arno River on top of the Ponte Vecchio, this private passageway is a literal and metaphoric stroll through Florentine history. The corridor now houses a special collection of artists' self-portraits, featuring painters from the Renaissance to the 18th century including Corot and Delacroix. It also features unforgettable views of the streets of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Arno River itself.
Susan Tenenbaum, a recent participant in the Select Italy-organized tour reported back, "The tour was well worth what it cost - it is the only way to gain an understanding of the damage done to the Uffizi by the Mafia bombing, it amplifies one's understanding of the historical development of the city. While it doesn't contain the famous pieces that the Uffizi is known for, it has wonderful collections of portraits of artists, miniatures, other interesting works which, for whatever reasons, have not made it into the more public galleries. Our guide was wonderful and responsive, the Uffizi's escort, at one point, opened one of the windows to point out a spectacular view of the Ponte Vecchio, simply impossible to duplicate."
Select Italy's tour features a guided visit to the Vasari Corridor, and a brief guided tour of the highlights of the Uffizi Collection. This service can be purchased as a private exclusive tour for $900.00 or slots on small group tours can be booked for $93.00 per person. Additional details and booking are available at www.selectitaly.com
Or, to discuss the Vasari Corridor small group tour or story ideas regarding any other Select Italy services, please contact Seth Zurer at (800) 877-1755 or (847) 853-1661.