Google provides street views of Italian cities (on the iPhone, too)

I’m constantly impressed by the fast pace at which Microsoft and Google are innovating in the mapping technology space.
Some time ago I created a short video tutorial describing the two online services, then I blogged about how Google allows users to customize their maps and how Microsoft introduced bird’s eye views of several cities in Italy.

This time I’ll talk about Google’s street views. Imagine a car with a panoramic camera on its roof to capture thousands of pictures while it’s circulating around a city. Now, link those images to Google maps and you can experience on your computer what a busy Italian street looks like in the reality.

Google for now provides coverage only for Milan, Rome, Florence and the Lake Como area. Check some of these links, drag your pointer around to discover the surroundings and follow the arrows to move along the streets:
Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence
Piazza del Popolo in Rome
Piazza Castello in Milan
Piazza Roma in Arzegno (on Lake Como)

If you own an iPhone, you’ll be happy to know that Google street views are available for your mobile device too.
For example, search for ‘Rome’ in the Google Maps iPhone application and click on the orange little man on the label:

and you’ll magically experience what’s like driving in Italy without time constrains.

Now that you are “virtually ready” for Italy, consider the next steps to get “totally ready” for Italy.
Download a free chapter of our eBook and start discovering more than 350+ tips that will help you navigate Italy like a local.

Italy online maps getting more sophisticated

Last January I posted a video demoing how you can explore Italy from the sky using Google Maps and Microsoft’s Live Search Maps. They are both excellent tools and you’ll not be disappointed either way.

Working myself at Microsoft though, I’ve done some extra research about the recent coverage improvements of the Italian territory using our services, and here is what I discovered.

New bird’s eye views
Live Search Maps now offers bird’s eye views for 70+ Italian cities. What it means is that you can enjoy aerial views at low altitude of several important cities in Italy and at different angles too!
Check out Udine, Milan, or Padua.
Here is a current unofficial list which will grow overtime.

To try yourself, go to Live Search Maps, enter one of the cities in the list, zoom a little closer until the Bird’s Eye label in the toolbar is enabled. Then click it and enjoy!

Photosynth technology meets maps
I already blogged about this cool technology which turns photo into 3D experiences. Photosynth is still an unreleased product incubated by Microsoft Research. What excites me are the integration possibilities with online mapping services.
For example, you can start from a satellite view of Rome and drill down to the details of St. Peter’s cathedral.
This video demos exactly this scenario.

Using Google MyMaps to link multimedia content about Italy

Google has just added a new interesting feature to their online mapping service called MyMaps. MyMaps allows anybody to create personalized maps with annotations including text, images, links, and share it with others.
We jumped on the opportunity to visually link the content of our blog, podcasts and videos to a customized Google MyMap of Italy. Please let us know what you think.
View ItalyFromTheInside’s Google MyMap

In January, we also did a video review of Google Maps and Microsoft Local Live Search.