Aug 20, 2013
ROME, Italy - Tuesday was a scheduled free day for the University of Nevada men's basketball team and travel party but many opted for a tour of the Vatican. The group departed at 8 a.m. for the four hour tour.
Upon arrival outside the Vatican the guide equipped us each with a radio which is something we have become accustomed to with the many guided tours on the 10-day trip to Italy. It allows them to describe what we are seeing during the tour. Midway through today's tour we needed to make a channel change as another group in the area was using the same channel. Walking to the main entrance we passed by a line over one block long of those waiting to enter the Vatican. It's best to pay for a tour and avoid the long lines. There are other benefits and shortcuts you get throughout the tour.
The guide explained that Vatican City was established as an independent state in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty, between Pope Pius XI and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini would sign the treaty on behalf of the King. Mussolini later became dictator and was instrumental in World War II.
After entering we made our way through the Vatican museums that contained fabulous paintings, statues, mosaics, tapestries and the Raphael Rooms. The Raphael rooms are a series of four adjoining rooms that once formed reception areas for those wishing to see the Pope. They are known for their frescoes, painted by Raphael.
As we continued on we arrived at the Sistine Chapel made famous by Michelangelo who painted the ceiling with his frescos. It took him four years to paint the chapel ceiling while lying on his back some 60 feet above the floor. The Sistine Chapel is where the Papal conclave is held when a new Pope is selected. You are not allowed to take photos or video and are also asked to be silent during your time in the chapel.
The last stop on the tour was St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Catholic Church in the world. It is the burial site of St. Peter and several Popes are buried within the church. It took 120 years to build St. Peter's Basilica and over 50 years to complete the interior with decoration. As we departed we left through the lower level of the church where several Popes are entombed.
As we walked out of the church we passed the Papal Swiss guard in full dress. A very hot day to wear full dress guarding the Vatican.
A tired group boarded the bus and a short time later we arrived back at the team hotel. Just in time for lunch and time to rest before tonight's final game at 9 p.m. in Rome. The team boards the plane in the morning excited to return to Reno to see family and friends.
Check out the photo gallery from today's Vatican tour. After the game we will have photos and results.