Treasure Hunt gets digital update in WiFi Venice

MILAN (Reuters) - Treasure Hunting will go fully digital on Friday night when players chase a mysterious oriental wand with special powers along the narrow streets and bridges of Venice.

A view of the Grand Canal and the Santa Maria della Salute basilica (C) (Basilica of Our Lady of Health) in Venice, northeast Italy February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Discovering hidden corners far from tourist crowds, hunters will get route indications and keywords through cellphones and laptops to celebrate venerable Venice’s big jump into the future -- getting fully wired.

“Ten thousand kilometers of fiber optic, a lot of hot spots, covering all the public libraries ... many European cities have WiFi, no other has this kind of wide coverage,” said Michele Vianello, deputy mayor of Venice, who oversaw the project.

Under the plan, which gives free broadband WiFi to residents, students and businesses in the lagoon city, tourists and visitors will pay 5 euros a day for the service.

Venice city council financed the project with 10 million euros and is now looking for private capital to develop it, Vianello said.

The fast WiFi, between 20 and 100 megabytes, will enable development of e-commerce and cable television, freeing the heart of the old city from unsightly antennas. It should also provide a big competitive advantage for business, Vianello said.

“And we’ll put on the Web, part of the precious Venetian cultural heritage ... we’re starting to tell the story of another Venice,” he added.


The digital WiFi treasure hunt “Whaiwhai,” launching the service, is based on a plot written by author Alberto Toso Fei.

“Gaming as a way to rethink traveling and knowing ... we had hundreds of tests before releasing it,” said Tomas Barazza, managing director at LOG607, a start-up he co-founded with Fabio Salvadori.

They made "Whaiwhai" (, a game which has won a top award in Italy for innovation in tourism.

Italian and English versions of “Whaiwhai” are already available to play in Rome, Florence and Verona and LOG607 plans to export it also to London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco.

As a format, “Whaiwhai” can be adapted for special events and different applications, Barazza said.

“We are planning a Milan version focused on sport events. The British Museum has asked us to develop a game for inside the London museum, as we’ll hope to do at Rome in the Forum,” he said.

“Whaiwhai” will be available from September in a version for iPhone, Barazza said.

LOG607, started in H-Farm (, a private project founded by entrepreneur Riccardo Donadon in 2005. The international platform now has 17 start-ups and offices in Cà Tron Treviso, Italy, Seattle and Mumbai, India.

Editing by Steve Addison