for The Washington Post / AP on June 23, 2011
ROME — The Vatican is betting an iPod beats “Shush!” in lowering the tour guide noise level in basilicas. It will even lend you one for free to try to prove its point.
From a tiny booth in the back of St. John in Lateran, the Holy See’s pilgrim agency has been quietly asking tourists if they want to tour Rome’s oldest basilica with an iPod in hand loaded with an app specially designed to access the place’s art, architecture and Christian history.
It’s a bid to cut down on the noise as well as to appeal more to the young, not your typical pilgrim, the Rev. Caesar Atuire, CEO of the pilgrim agency, said Tuesday.
“It is designed to appeal to a wider audience than the usual churchgoer,” Atuire told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the Holy Land.
The Vatican will formally unveil the experiment on Wednesday. But a visit Tuesday found curious tourists exploring the cavernous basilica with specially adapted iPods in hand.
“It’s fantastic. I really appreciate it,” said Agustin Valverde, a Spaniard visiting the basilica with his family, including his eight-month-old son and namesake, who looked wide-eyed at the iPod. “You can see a lot (more) beauty this way.”
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/apnewsbreak-vatican-lending-ipods-to-pilgrims-to-lower-tour-noise-level-in-rome-basilica/2011/06/21/AGZQkKeH_story.html?wprss=rss_on-faith