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.
The Vatican will formally unveil the experiment tomorrow. Tourists from around the world were exploring the cavernous basilica with specially adapted iPods in hand today. There's no charge, although users must leave a document as security. The experiment will run through December. (Read more Vatican stories.)