i-MiBAC: Free iPhone App Guide for Italy’s Archaeological Sites and Museums

An iPhone application that will provide information, ticketing and itineraries for the 40 most visited museums and sites in Italy is to be launched on 1 July.

Released by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (known in Italy as MiBAC), ‘i-MiBAC Top 40’ is the first of a series of free apps produced by the Italian ministry dedicated to Italy’s heritage sites and museums.

In both English and Italian, it will initially be available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, but will soon be made available for smartphones too.

According to MiBAC’s press release, the application will available on the AppStore as well as from the MiBAC website. It presents the historical and cultural background of 40 sites, accompanied by a photo gallery and an expert’s introduction of the collection or site. The app also includes maps of the museums and monuments, suggested itineraries and related cultural attractions, while also using GPS to suggest a list of nearby cultural attractions.

The opening times, access information, contact details and websites, as well as ticketing information is given. Other features include being able to share information on Facebook, receiving news directly from MiBAC and the possibility of buying tickets straight from your phone. This is probably good news for anyone who’s seen the huge queues for the Roman Forum, Palatine and Colosseum in June and July!

While this is the first iPhone app to be released by an Italian ministry, there are plenty already out there for avid fans of ancient history, including the Museum of London’s Streetmuseum app and one of the more popular apps so far of 2010, MEanderthal, which shows you how you would have looked as a caveman.

The i-MiBAC project plans to release other similar apps for cinema, music events, less-visited cultural sites, heritage sites in Abruzzo, UNESCO sites in Italy and looted art recovered by the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, a branch of Italy’s special police dedicated to chasing down illegally looted or illegally exported cultural objects.

I haven’t got an iPhone myself, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get my hands on one by 1 July so I can try out this app and see for myself if it really does all it says on the press release!