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Italy’s texting tourists

May
26
2006

Italy is said to hold 60% of the world’s art treasures, but visiting them has always been a bit tricky. After staggering up 300 steps of the Leaning Tower of Pisa at 2 p.m. in sticky 100° heat, you realize you could have taken a leisurely climb and worked off those tortellini from dinner by coming at 11p.m.

Or you pass through the jewel town of Carmignano in Tuscany and would love to know what to see, but find the tourist office already closed for the day. The Italian Culture Ministry hopes to change that with a service offered via mobile phone called Cultural SMS.

At the cost of a regular text message, visitors dial (+39) 339 99 11 99, make a query in natural language (in English or Italian) and the how-to information is zapped back in a matter of seconds.

In addition to opening times and ticket prices the service can also tell you if there are any special events or concerts.

The only drawback is that certain information, like many things in Italy, can be complicated. For example, a message sent reading ‘What time do the Vatican Museums open?’ yields the slightly cryptic answer: ‘entrance 8:45 – 15:20P.M. exit 16:45P.M., when the museums close.’ Fortunately, a backup service is offered from 9A.M. to 7P.M. on (06) 88 33 60 60.

It did better with Carmignano, suggesting a look-see at one of my favorite works,Pontormo‘s stunning “Visitation,” in the church of San Michele, open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 1:49 AM | Permalink

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