Vatican Replacing Tour Guides With iPods

The Vatican is lending iPods to pilgrims in a pilot program aimed at coupling ancient basilicas with modern technology to lower the noise level from tour guide chatter.

From a tiny booth in the back of St. John in Lateran, the Vatican has been quietly asking tourists if they want to tour Rome's oldest basilica with an iPod in hand loaded with an app to make accessing the place's art, architecture and Christian history user friendly.

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The Vatican will formally unveil the experiment on Wednesday. Tourists from around the world were exploring the cavernous basilica with specially adapted iPods in hand Tuesday. There's no charge, although users must leave a document as security. The experiment runs through December.

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