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Scenery Review - Florence - Firenza Italy by X-Urbi

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Scenery Review - Florence - Firenza Italy by X-Urbi

 

Florence or Firenza in Italian has been the centre of things in human history for a millennium. Religious and republican revolutions, the Renaissance, power and wealth with the Medici, medieval trade, fashion, art and masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio and Francesco Guicciardini, Leonardo da Vinci and the odd stab in the back by Machiavelli... politically, economically, and culturally Florence is one of the most important cities in Europe and was the leader in the world in the earlier 14th to 16th centuries...  so Florence really is the centre or the creator of the modern world.

 

X-Plane in reality has not had many of what I call "landscape" sceneries. Yes the simulator has city sceneries and even very detailed small airfields with the surrounding locale. But visually in just representing a particular aspect of an area or a place is very rare, only the mountain sceneries by Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini are the only sort of representation of an area in respect to it's visual placement. 

 

So a city landscape scenery, for just really giving pilot's a VFR reference is going to be interesting, and so it is with this X-Urbi release of the Italian city of Florence in Italy. In reality this sort of scenery could not really exist before X-Plane11. The autogen system was still so very basic back then in to creating the complete realistic environment required to give any landscape scenery any chance of being believable, but as we will see here in this review, that aspect has now changed significantly. I have always championed the idea of clever autogen mixed in with iconic monuments to create an authentic scenario without the horrible framerate crush that is usually delivered with 3d generated objects, that objective is now being seen as it is here in Firenze.

 

Although not part of the actual X-Urbi scenery package, it is important to download and install tdg's excellent "LIRQ Florence Airport Italy 1.0.0 " and as it's free and so it is not going to hurt the household budget, we will start the review in looking at the position of LIRQ in reference to the city of Florence itself.

 

LIRQ - Amerigo Vespucci Airport

I can be a bit of wanting my "cake and eat it"...  but LIRQ does fit in very well into the X-Plane mesh without any photo images under the scenery. My main preference is that any scenery must adapt in perfectly with it's surroundings to give you a perfect transition from the default to the custom areas.

 

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No doubt here is that LIRQ delivers that feel and an Italian feel at that with the rows of olive trees growing in the background. The central area of Florence is only 4km (2.5 miles) away to the southeast but it looks far further away.

 

To add in a bit of fun I selected the default X-Plane Aerolite 103 as my means of transport, and to get an aerial view of Firenze...

 

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First up to the left is the Palazzo di Giustizia di Firenze or the Florence court of appeal, it is a bizarre almost art structure. It also brings out of the scenery's biggest issue, the building is well done, but it just sits out there on an open area, of which we call "islands", so it works and it does not at the same time. The "Parco San Donato" that sit's next to the courts and it's almost an art form in shape of path ways is missing.

 

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Ever since Laminar Research has inserted the German autogen into X-Plane11, it fills out areas in an astounding way...  again it works extremely well here, with the terracotta feel of the inner city out into the distance.

 

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The River Arno is as with most famous cities is it's lifeline. Guided by the huge dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and other Firenze monuments I fly down the Arno towards the centre...

 

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There is a join between the autogen and the start of the custom buildings, but you are hard pressed to notice it, this makes for and creates a beautiful flow of a complete full landscape.

 

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Now you are upon the significant Ponte Vecchio "Old Bridge" that crosses the Arno...

 

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Central Florence is a tight labyrinth of Medici wealth, Italianate courtyards surrounded by blocks of fashionable apartments.

 

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Thankfully it all has that very Italian feel, but without the graffiti. Thankfully the Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. All the important skyline icons are represented here including:  Santa Maria Del Fiore, Palazzo Pitti, Uffizzi, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Orsanmichele, Badia Fiorentina, San Firenze, Palazzo Strozzi, orte Belvedere, San Miniato, San Salvatore Al Monte, Fortezza Da Basso, Palazzo Spini Feroni, Palazzo di Giustizia, Villa Petraia, Academia Della Crusca, Stadio, Torre San Nicolò and the odd modern one with the Hilton Hotel.

 

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The 11th century Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte is on the south bank of the river Arno, with the Piazzale Michelangelo and is possibly the best viewpoint of the city is set out in front of it...

 

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Only odd thing is if you approach the Piazzale Michelangelo from the front it is fine, but from the rear it goes all translucent and in parts disappears.

 

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A looping back north will get you a glimpse of the Nelson Mandela Forum and Artemio Franchi Stadium...

 

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...  the stadium is represented but not the Nelson Mandela fields and the smaller stadiums which are not created, which makes this very visual point a bit bland and just trees.

 

The 1882 Moorish-style synagogue with it's lovely blue domes (Comunità Ebraica di Firenze) stands out nicely, but the ultimate Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore when up close is a bit of a let down...  the Cathedral itself is very good, but it is placed "lsland like" in the middle of nothing?

 

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In fact the whole building is hemmed in by other buildings, as there is no open ground around the Cathedral? Instead the autogen is left to do the work, which it does not do very well...  very odd? I think the developer has got confused with the Pisa, which is laid out like this?

 

Same sort of issue is also happening around the Palazzo Vecchio...  the square is just left as X-Plane mesh? So it feels isolated and not part of the city...

 

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... so my "cake and eating it" is that it would have been good to also have had some photo base to these squares or other open areas. The statue of David (the reproduction with the manly bits) is reduced to a being a poster on the wall of the Pallazzo? not very realistic, the statue I mean, not the manly bits.

 

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But generally with this centre of culture, renaissance art and architecture and and world famous monuments is that it is really well done and realistic.

 

X-Urbi_Florence_Centre 26 LG.jpg

 

Lighting

95% of the lighting in Florence is done by the autogen. The rest is only the monuments that have been externally lit for show, but overall it does work quite exceptionally well in a medieval sort of way and feel.

 

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Summary

Visually for many years X-Plane has struggled with visual realiastion of an area or just the world in general. But with better environmental tools and the more complete autogen, then now X-Plane is starting to deliver authentic visual clues that make simulator flying even more realistic and more visually real.

 

Packages like this Florence - Firenza from X-Urbi really delivers that extra layer of realism that the autogen and even Laminar's own landmarks can't deliver. Overall there is not much you can do with this scenery package, but to simply look at it? It's not an airport or even some where that is interactive, but on another account it actually is somewhere to go and use in X-Plane. It however does an excellent job of recreating the feel and look of a very significant and beautiful area of Italy.

 

For VFR flying it is excellent and a bit disappointing as well... In flying around this wonderful city it is certainly spectacular from the air, and with all the important landmarks to navigate from. but don't look to closely as many important areas on the ground are a bit bland or just the basic mesh...   A bit more attention to having photo ground images to make the ground more realistic, in the city squares, football/sports fields and around the courts would have completed the whole VFR experience... why the main Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is so exposed is a little bit of a head scratcher.

 

But let us not take away that overall experience here, the "Italian Experience" that I have felt and love, it is a majestic place in the heart of Tuscany that is Florence and now X-Plane has that same feel and it is a brilliant area to fly to and enjoy....  overall magical.

 

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Yes!...  Florence - Firenza Italy by X-Urbi is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Florence - Firenza Italy

 

Price is US$12.50

 

LIRQ Florence Airport Italy 1.0.0 by tdg is highly recommended (it is free!)

 

Features:
The constructive philosophy of the scenario aims at the harmonization between  custom object and autogen and the lightness and fluidity rather than the detail.
The result is a realistic glance of the city, very useful for orientation in the VFR and in the approach operations to the Peretola airport.
 

Requirements :

X-Plane 11

Windows, Mac or Linux
2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended
  
Download and Installation
Installation :   Download file size is 24mb and is inserted into your X-Plane - Custom Scenery Folder. Installed file size is 40.20mb
 
Extras and Documents:
Installation.txt

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Review by Stephen Dutton

18th September 2018 

Copyright©2018 : X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) 

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.25r2

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini 

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.09 US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : BetterPushBack - Free

Scenery or Aircraft

- Aerolite 103 - Default X-plane by Laminar Research
- LIRQ - Florence Airport Italy 1.0.0 by tdg (X-Plane.Org) - Free
 
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