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TIM and the Opera di Santa Croce: culture and technology unite for the future of italy's artistic heritage

One of the world’s most famous sites of Italian art, spirituality and culture can now be discovered and experienced in a brand-new way using Extended Reality digital solutions, made available by 5G millimetre-wave

12/12/2023 - 03:00 PM

Culture and technology are joining forces for the future of Italy's artistic heritage: the monumental complex of Santa Croce in Florence is enhancing its visitor experience through new Extended Reality digital solutions which offer an innovative way to dive into the unrivalled cultural heritage of one of the global emblems of Italian culture, admired by thousands of visitors every year.

The innovative project was created as part of a broader collaboration agreement between TIM and the Opera di Santa Croce, seeking to promote new ways to manage and enhance cultural heritage, fostering effective synergies between areas of expertise in the fields of history, art and technology.

The ancient and majestic Franciscan Basilica, which houses the tombs of great historic figures like Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, as well as the Refectory, the cloisters and all the other incredible works of art within the Complex, will be experienced in a new way as from today, incorporating movement, dynamism and interactivity. The goal is to increase visitors' engagement and improve the cultural offer, also to attract new sections of the public.


The project, which makes Santa Croce one of the most innovative historic sites in Italy, was presented today at the event ‘Alla scoperta di Santa Croce tra passato e futuro in Extended Reality’ [Discovering Santa Croce between past and future in Extended Reality], organised by TIM Enterprise and the Opera di Santa Croce in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and with the support of Live Reply, as software developer. The event saw the unveiling of the augmented and immersive reality guided tour, which will offer visitors a more engaging cultural experience using digital elements such as images, animations and 360° videos. The following took part: Alessia Bettini, Deputy Mayor of Florence and Councillor for Culture; Cristina Acidini, President of the Opera di Santa Croce; Elio Schiavo, Chief Enterprise and Innovative Solutions Officer of TIM; Stefano Filipponi, Secretary General of the Opera di Santa Croce; and Fabio Iaione, Country Manager Italy and Senior Director Business Development of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


This initiative is the first step for the project which will enable, through Extended Reality, a better understanding of the rich heritage of Santa Croce, a unique site characterised by the interaction between spirituality, art and civilisation. In the coming months, following an initial trial phase, this technology will become an integral part of the tour support equipment made available to the public.


Throughout 2024, visitors will be able to appreciate the works in the Monumental Complex in an innovative way, using 5G millimetre-wave smartphones powered by Qualcomm Technologies, installed with an augmented reality app developed by Live Reply, a leading company in the design and implementation of solutions based on new communication channels and digital media. This new way of experiencing art is made possible thanks to the ample bandwidth and low latency of TIM’s 5G millimetre-wave technology and the Extended Reality solutions of TIM Enterprise, the Business Unit of the Group for companies and public administrations.


The spiritual identity and the secular identity of Santa Croce have inspired, in particular, two thematic routes that visitors will be able to explore using the new technology: the first is linked to Franciscanism and the other to the great Italian figures whose memory is kept alive in the Complex.

The Franciscan route, designed in collaboration with the Community of the Friars Minor Conventual of Santa Croce, winds between the Refectory and Giotto’s fresco ‘Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata’ which is found within the Basilica. Visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of Florence's Franciscan community with 360° immersive videos and detailed augmented reality images of works such as The Tree of Life and the Bardi Altarpiece. They will be accompanied by a narrative voice guiding them to uncover features that are invisible to the naked eye.

The second itinerary, The Greats of Santa Croce, runs through the Basilica and celebrates women and men who have stood out for their civic virtue and intellectual genius. Through augmented reality, it will be possible to ‘meet’ a digital version of Galileo Galilei and Giorgio Vasari, who will recount details and interesting facts about the history of the Monumental Complex, and to appreciate architectural details on the memorials dedicated to Dante, Machiavelli and Rossini.


During the event there was also an opportunity to try out immersive reality applications using special wearable viewers, which will in future enable an authentic journey through the Basilica of Santa Croce even from afar, building further momentum in the development of digital tourism.


“This initiative is a major step in cultural innovation - said the Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Culture Alessia Bettini -, bringing augmented and immersive reality to the monumental Complex of Santa Croce. 5G and Extended Reality solutions are opening the door to a unique experience that integrates history and technology, making artistic heritage more accessible and engaging for visitors. An opportunity to rediscover culture through new digital perspectives, but also to enhance thematic routes like the Franciscan one, which enrich the visitor experience and play a significant role in promoting discerning and sustainable tourism."


Cristina Acidini, President of the Opera di Santa Croce, highlighted that “for some time now, the Opera di Santa Croce has been working on new ways to receive visitors, with the goal of providing tools and support for the discovery of the monumental complex, to enhance the visitor experience in a personal and authentic way. The trial presented today, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with TIM, is very much a part of this journey and combines use of the most innovative technology with the urgent need to promote a heritage that should be available for everyone to discover, starting with the very youngest, who could initially be the target audience for this initiative."


Elio Schiavo, TIM's Chief Enterprise and Innovative Solutions Officer, said: “Today we are launching new opportunities to access our immense artistic heritage, a sector which is increasingly attentive to the new user experiences that digital technologies enable. With this project we are making the Monumental Complex of Santa Croce more accessible to visitors, who will be able to participate in completely modernised tours thanks to 5G and new developments in TIM Enterprise’s solutions. Extended Reality, for example, can blur the line between real and virtual, creating a unique experience: a genuine leap in space and time, in museums and at archaeological sites, with the aim of promoting our country's territory and culture”.


Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President and President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA at Qualcomm Europe, Inc. stated: “We are pleased TIM brought this initiative to life with Opera Santa Croce to offer visitors an immersive digital experience at Italy’s heritage site. Thanks to the innovative capacity of 5G technologies and millimeter wave devices, the tourism sector can enrich visitors’ experience. Customer experiences across multiple sectors can be enhanced by utilizing a large ecosystem of 5G devices and applications”.


With this initiative, TIM has created an experience that is unique in the field of tourism and culture thanks to TIM Enterprise’s capacity for innovation. Its solutions hold great development potential for Italy, enabling an increase in visitor numbers and improving the quality of artistic and cultural tours, by making content and sites more available and engaging, including those that are inaccessible or that have fallen into ruin.  The aim is to use new technologies to rediscover museums, archaeological sites, areas and all the invaluable places worthy of protection that Italy offers to the world, so that they can be revisited in a ‘moving’ way, physically venturing into history without architectural or temporal barriers.



Florence, 12 December 2023

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