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Courtesy: Pat Salvas

Dartmouth Hockey in Italy and Switzerland: The Vatican

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 09/09/2013
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Sorry for the delay in this final posting. Our Internet connection while in Rome was less than stellar to say the least, so our final day in the city and on this trip had to wait until we were back in the Granite State to be posted.

On Friday morning, the entire group woke up early and had our first experience with the Roman subway system. We piled onto the train and made our way four stops west to the Vatican museum where we would meet our private tour guide.

For reasons one can only imagine, the security line entering the Vatican Museum was incredibly long and well maintained. It was like going through airport security with x-ray machines for bags and loose items with body scans and personal checkdowns at its entrance.

However, it was all worth it once we got inside. Our first stop was the Square Garden where we were given a history lesson on the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Since there is no talking allowed in the chapel, the background behind the painting and its recent restoration project were given in a gorgeous courtyard setting that seemed fitting given the area’s purpose was to honor the artists who helped create the city and its buildings.

We moved on to rooms filled with sculptures, paintings, mural, mosaics and maps. The sheer size of the museum was amazing as each room was filled with countless priceless artifacts.

Finally, we made our way to the Sistine Chapel, one of the most famous areas of Christianity. It was not as big in actual size as it is in myth, but the ceiling’s artwork is some of the most well known and awe-inspiring in the world. Looking around at a crammed room of people straining the necks and heads upward to take in Michelangelo’s finest works and trying to navigate that as more throngs of people filtered in behind you was tough, but worth it.

We reluctantly moved on in our tour. Eventually we came to the central location of the Vatican: Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square.

The largest church in the world lived up to its billing, impressing the seas of people at every corner. Just when you thought you had come to a dead end, it kept going. Despite its stature as the world’s largest house of worship, its size was deceptive. The ceiling seemed to be higher than anything we had seen before. The main corridor stretched on forever, lined with religious engravings and passages in Latin. Every player who left the Vatican that day commented on the size and beauty of the basilica.

After St. Peter’s, the team was free to split up for the afternoon before coming together for our final team dinner of the trip.

However, before leaving the Vatican, Coach Gaudet and a small group of staff members found themselves looking for Paul VI Audience Hall. The building is used by the Pope as an alternative for his Wednesday services when Saint Peter’s Square is not available. Why Gaudet and his staff went looking for this building was simple: it’s architect.

Pier Luigi Nervi designed Paul VI Audience Hall, completed in 1971. Nervi is a world-famous Italian architectural designer, given his prestigious noted works. He not only designed this particular building in the Vatican, but also arenas for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, the George Washington Bus Station in New York and several towers throughout Europe. But for the purposes of this trip, his most notable work was Thompson Arena, home to the Dartmouth men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. In addition to Thompson, Nervi also designed Leverone Field House, completed a decade before, giving Dartmouth College two Nervi designed buildings located just about a football field apart from one another.

We made our way back from the Vatican, taking in many of the famous sights for the final time before meeting in the lobby to head out to dinner.

In a traditional outdoor setting, we enjoyed the final team meal in Italy. Our guide, Giosi, took part in a small performance in one of the windows above the tables, acting with the band that moved from group to group, playing traditional Italian music throughout the course of the meal.

When it ended, we all made our way back to the hotel in preparation for our final trip home in the morning.

Some of the guys in from of Saint Peter's Basilica just after our tour finished.
The basilica and Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City.
Inside the front entrance of Saint Peter's Basilica.
A wide angle shot of the world's largest church.
The artwork inside the Vatican Museum was incredible.
Our final time walking past Sant'Angleo's Castle one final time, located outside the entrance to the Vatican.

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