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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vatican hands out iPods to help keep the noise down in basilicas

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With thousands of pilgrims visiting the Vatican’s museum and basilicas each year, it is no wonder that things can get a little noisy inside.

In a bid to reduce the level of disturbance caused by noisy tour guides, the Holy See’s pilgrim agency has started offering visitors an iPod with a tour app to guide them through the art, architecture and Christian history.

According to the Associated Press, the iPod guide is being handed out for free but users will have to hand over their passports or driving licence as security.

It is currently being piloted in Rome’s Basilica of St John Lateran.

In addition to cutting down the noise, it is also hoped the iPod will open up the history of the sites to people outside the church.

“It is designed to appeal to a wider audience than the usual churchgoer,” the Rev Caesar Atuire, head of the pilgrim agency, told AP.

The app allows users to zoom in on images of the sites and even download archived photos that are not normally available to the public.

Rosa Maria Mancini, spokeswoman for the Vatican pilgrim agency Opera Roman Pellegrinaggi, told AP: “Basically, we have taken an iPod, we’ve filled it with plenty of content, with history, with everything you need to know about the basilica. You can discover it piece by piece.”

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