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Seen from Space 2008

Blossoming Renaissance in Florence

 
Fig. 1 Florence and its vicinity
(Full Image)
Figure 1 depicts Florence (Italian: Firenze), the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany (Italian: Toscana), Italy, as observed in September 2007. The beautiful city is named after Florentia, the Goddess of Flowers. It was established as a settlement for veteran soldiers who had fought together with Julius Caesar and was established by the Etruria, an ancient native people. The city then went through several changes as the capital of the Firenze Republic, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, one of the ruling Habsburg Dynasty, and the capital of the United Kingdom of Italy.
The Arno River flows through from right (East) to left (West) in the figure. The river flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean Sea, and western Italy, from Mount Falterona in the middle of Italy. At the mouth of the river is Pisa, which is famous for the Leaning Tower (77km west of Florence and not included in this figure).
Central Florence is distinguished by numerous red-bricked roofs. Yellow and light green areas represent wheat and grape fields. The grape-growing district for famous Chianti wine in Tuscany extends across the bottom (South) of the full image. The deep-green area is a vast forest. Florence thus gives the impression of an old red city surrounded by nature. You can see the largest park in Florence, Cascine Park (named cow house), in the lower left side of the figure. A small international airport, Amerigo Vespucci or Peretola Airport, is visible on the left side.

Fig. 2 Close-up of Florence
Florence (kmz, 3.99MB, Low Resolution) as seen on Google Earth.
Figure 2 depicts the central area of Florence. It is an aggregation of houses with red roofs, and many patios are seen. Italy, especially Florence, played a central role in the Renaissance, a cultural movement that bloomed in the 14th through the 15th century in not only Pisa, but also in Siena and Florence in the Tuscany region. Florence has many buildings from the Renaissance era and is called a museum city without a roof.
Some remarkable buildings are visible in the center of the figure. They are the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral has Duomo as a symbol of Florence. The Cathedral is composed of the Cathedral itself, a bell tower, and a chapel just like the cathedrals in Pisa and Siena that competed in the 13th to 14th century. The leaning tower in Pisa is known, but the Duomo with Cupola (it means dome in Italian, is 43m in internal diameter, and stands 108 meters tall) in Florence is also very popular.
The Cathedral is called the Florence Cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and simply Duomo. The cupola of the Duomo was the largest dome built at that time. Filippo Brunelleschi, designer of the cupola, was applauded as a symbol of the Renaissance.
The attractive beautiful façade of the Duomo is covered in white, green and red marble in a geometric pattern. The 82-meter-tall bell tower is called Giotto's Bell Tower. It was named after a designer, Giotto. The chapel named San Giovanni is octagonal, is older than the Duomo, and was used as a cathedral before the Duomo was built.
The whitish round building on the right is the Cupola of the Duomo, and the slender building on the left is a part of the Duomo. The Cupola seems whitish due to strong sunlight from the southeast, but it is actually made of red bricks. The round (actually octagonal) building on the left of Duomo is a chapel, and the small building visible in the left bottom of the Duomo is Giotto's Bell Tower.
Just above of Duomo is San Lorenzo church, which was updated by Brunelleschi. Vecchio Palace below Duomo was a government office of the Firenze Republic. It was an old palace of the Medici family (1360-1737) and is even now a city office of Florence. Vecchio means old in Italian. Uffizi Gallery is below the palace. Uffizi means office in Italian. Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-1574), a member the of Medici family, annexed Siena, was Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569, and commuted there every day. As the Medici extinguished, Anna Maria Lodovica, the last Medici heiress, presented several thousands of Medici's art treasures under the condition that they remain in Florence and open to the public.
A collection of the works of great Italian Renaissance painters such as Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael can be found in the gallery. The Birth of Venus by Botticelli is displayed in the Botticelli room, the largest room in Uffizi. The whole building forms a huge U. Signoria Plaza is visible between Vecchio Palace and Uffizi Gallery. Pitti Palace, formerly the residence of the Medici family, is located on the south bank across the Arno River. It is simple but big, has a large Boboli garden, and is now the home of art galleries and museums. It was ordered by Luca Pitti, a Florentine banker; designed by Brunelleschi; and then bought by the Medici family in the 16th century.
The Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge) is a bridge over the Arno River between Pitti Palace and Uffizi. It was built in 1345 and is the oldest bridge in Florence. A private corridor, Vasari Corridor, was built for Cosimo I de' Medic on second floor to enable him to move freely from his residence to his office out of sight of his many political rivals, and is now a gallery.
Michelangelo plaza is located on a small hill to the right of Boboli garden and overlooks Florence city.
Firenze Station and Santa Maria Novella Station (Central Station) are visible in the upper left of Fig. 2. Santa Maria Novella Church is just below the Santa Maria Novella Station. It is a church but also the world's oldest pharmacy. It started in 1221 with the cultivation of herbs in Dominican monasteries. It continues to produce eau de Cologne, soap and body care goods, after licensed pharmacy in 1612 and purveyor to the Medici family. It is also known that Leonardo da Vinci lived here for three years while painting the Mona Lisa.
Accademia Gallery is on the right of Santa Maria Novella Station. Here stands the well known 4m tall statue of David by Michelangelo. The statue was originally in the Signoria Plaza but was transferred here in 1873.
Florence is surrounded by a castle wall and has many towers and fortresses. Basso Fortress and Belvedere Fortress are visible in the figure. Basso Fortress used to be the venue of exhibitions and meetings. Belvedere Fortress sits on a low hill and is a good place for viewing Florence. A large sports complex for football and baseball is also visible on the right of the figure.
Central Florence was added to the list of World Cultural Heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1982 as the Historic Centre of Florence.




Explanation of the Images:


Figs. 1, 2 and full image -Click the images twice to enlarge them.
Satellite: Advanced Land-Observing Satellite (ALOS) (Daichi)
Sensor: Panchromatic Remote-Sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping (PRISM) (Fig. 2),
Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer-2 (AVNIR-2) (Figs. 1 and 2)
Date: 1015 (UTC) Sep. 9, 2007
Ground resolution: 2.5m (PRISM) and 10m (AVNIR-2)
Map Projection: Universal Transversal Mercator (UTM)
PRISM is an optical sensor for observing ground surfaces with visible and near-infrared signals in the 520 to 770nano-meter (one-billionth of a meter) band. The acquired image is monochrome. PRISM has three independent optical systems (telescopes) to acquire images for nadir, forward, and backward views at the same time. Only the nadir image was used in this article.
AVNIR-2 is equipped with a pointing function by which it can shift its observation area perpendicular to ALOS's direction of travel and has four observation bands. The composite images are usually produced by assigning red to Band 3 (610 to 690nm), green to Band 2 (520 to 600nm), and blue to Band 1 (420 to 500nm). The AVNIR-2 composite image was then transformed into hue, saturation and intensity, and the intensity was replaced by the PRISM image. The hue, saturation and intensity data were then reversed into a color image. As a result, a virtual 2.5m ground-resolution color image was obtained. This kind of high-resolution color image, composed by combining the higher-resolution monochrome image and the lower-resolution color image, is called a pan-sharpened image.
Figure 2 presents high-resolution, pan-sharpened images composed this way. The resulting images have natural coloring as if seen by the naked eye. Thus, colors indicate the following ground objects.

Deep Green: Forests or river
Ocher or light green: Fields
Red: City area (Roofs)
Bluish grey: City area, castle wall or roads
White: Clouds
Black: No data or cloud shadows

Related Sites:
ALOS Research and Application Page
Music and Habsburg dynasties in Vienna
1,000-Year Prosperity of the "City of Water"- Venice
Zoom in on the Town of Turin in Northwest Italy
Land, Seen from Space
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