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Dear Friends:
The participants for our group tour in Italy arrived late last week, and we’ve been having so much fun sightseeing and eating!  First, we toured the Vatican Museums and saw the 500-year-old art and artifacts preserved there.  It was awe-inspiring!  Next, we traveled to Florence, childhood home of both Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.  While there, we toured the Galleria dell’ Accademia (Accademia Museum), which houses Michelangelo’s famous statue David.  We also wandered on our own all around Florence, getting lost.  Finding our way back was half the fun.

My granddaughters Sofia (left) and Michela (right) joined the group for the welcoming dinner at Toninos in Cortona.

We had a wonderful welcome dinner at Toninos when we arrived in Cortona, and so far we’ve visited the Church of St. Margaret; the Diocesan Museum; the Etruscan Museum; and Le Celle, the monastery of St. Francis of Assisi.  St. Francis is the patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment and is very dear to my heart, as many of you know.  Some of us even wore our St. Francis pins in honor of my favorite saint!

Last week I included a picture of members of my family and me on the steps of Cortona’s Town Hall.  This week my family was greatly expanded!

What a joy it is to have all four of my daughters with me in Italy!  Left to right:  Becky, Ginny, Mary, Patty, and me.

Another of my favorites is St. Margaret.  She is the patron saint of Cortona and is famous for helping sick people.  She started one of the first hospitals in Italy, and her body is miraculously mummified and can be seen in a glass coffin at the altar of the church.

This crucifix is in the Church of St. Margaret, which is located on top of the hill in Cortona.  The crucifix originally came from the Church of St. Basil, which occupied the same spot in the time of St. Margaret.  According to legend, the crucified figure got down off the cross and let St. Margaret into the church to pray after she had been locked out.

Our next adventure was a tour of wine country, with stops in Montepulciano, Montalcino, and Lucignano.

Mary and I found the tour guide’s explanation of how wine is made to be most interesting.  We were at the Santa Rosa Vineyard outside of Montalcino.

This is about half our group at Santa Rosa.


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