Photographer's Note


For lovers of art Florence is pure magic! In this panoramic view from the Piazzale Michelangelo, one can see most of the dreaming spires of the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. From left to right, on the extreme left is the Ponte Vecchio, built in 1344 to replace a Roman bridge that had been swept by the flooding of the Arno River two centuries earlier. Then in the mid-16th century, it was restored by the artist/architect and art historian, Vasari. During WWII, the Ponte Vecchio was the only one of the bridges across the river not destroyed by retreating German Troops. The spire (and the building below it) is the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Museum, home to the greatest collection of Renaissance art in the world. The second spire belongs to the Barghello Museum, harboring many of the finest Renaissance sculptures. The Barghello's collection includes marble statuary by Michelangelo, one of Donatello's famous bronze statues of David, as well as the bronze David of Verrocchio. The latter is thought to have been modeled after Leonardo in His Youth. The white tower with the flat top is the Campanile, designed for the Cathedral, the Duomo, by Giotto. Between the two towers it is possible to make out the dome of the Baptistry, famous for its doors — created by Ghiberti and named, "The Gates of Paradise," by Michelangelo.

The dominant landmark, Brunelleschi's Miraculous Dome, completed in the 1430s, was crowned a generation later with a 2.4 m (8 ft) diameter gilt ball by the 19-year old Leonardo (it is too small to be visible in this photo). The spire on the far right belongs to the Basilica of Santa Croce, where many of the great sons of Florence, including Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, Galileo, Volta... have crypts. Danté's, however, is empty, since he was buried in Ravenna, the town of his birth. The empty crypt is maintained for him at the Santa Croce, in the unlikely event that one day his remains will be brought to Florence.

As for Galileo, in trouble with the Church at his death in 1642, he was initially buried in a small room next to the novices' chapel at the end of a corridor. A century later, he was partially forgiven, and his remains were moved into the transept of the Basilica. However, one of his fingers was detached, but eventually found its way into the Museum of the History of Science, an unobtrusive building behind the Uffizi. This is also where several of Galileo's original telescopes are kept.

Of the trio, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael, the unrivaled titans of the High Renaissance, only Michelangelo is buried in Florence. Raphael, who hailed from Urbino, was buried in the Pantheon in Rome. And, of course, Leonardo is not buried in Italy, but in Amboise, France, where he had lived the last three years of his life.

Inspired by my good friend, Didi Massoud, the 'Master Taylor' who routinely stitches multiple images, for this panoramic view I took three photos with my Nikon D200. Then I stitched them together using HP-Software, and cleaned it up in a cursory manner with Photoshop CS-4. The original panorama shot measured 8000x2500 pixels, with a file size of 15 MB. In the present LARGE VERSION, I reduced the image to 2000x625 pixels, and 3.9 MB, then 'saved it for web and devices' at 400 KB.

Finally, a complementary version of this photo was recently submitted by Giorgio Mercuri. I recommend strongly, seeing Giorgio's photo after seeing this image.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12169] (41257)
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