VATICAN CITY — Kansas guard Sam Cunliffe didn’t need to rely on a tour guide during much of Thursday morning’s trip to Vatican City.
There was good reason for that.
“I’m from an Italian family, so I knew about all that stuff,” Cunliffe said. “Hearing about it all the time and seeing pictures in my grandma’s house ... to finally be able to see it in person is special for me.”
The Jayhawks spent three hours touring the Vatican’s sites, a list that included Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Cunliffe said one of the biggest thrills was seeing Michaelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.”
“You see that everywhere — God touching Adam. You see that on everything,” Cunliffe said. “To actually see the original one painting was insane for me.”
KU’s players also spent more than an hour inside St. Peter’s Basilica, with coach Bill Self whispering, “Oh my gosh” in awe after entering the largest church in the world.
“It’s amazing,” Cunliffe said. “I don’t even think we could build that stuff today. It’s insane.”
KU’s players were recognized by tourists during most of the trip, which included their time in Sistine Chapel, where talking is discouraged by guards. Seven-foot center Udoka Azubuike was asked multiple times to stop for pictures during the walking tour, while a police officer yelled out the word, “Basket” as the team left the Vatican, correctly guessing the Jayhawks’ sport based on the players’ heights.
With the outing completed, Cunliffe said he was looking forward to calling his mother, Michele.
“Being able to actually come up here and see all this blows my mind,” Cunliffe said. “I actually want to live here one day.”
The Jayhawks’ sightseeing trip finished less then five hours before the team’s second exhibition game in Italy, as they will face Players Group at 11:30 a.m. Central.