A group of residents from Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls and Hudson recently toured Italy with Fr. Paul J. Rosing of Holy Family Church and was greeted and honored by the Honorable Achille Variati, mayor of the city of Vicenza during their visit. The tour was arranged by Peter D'Attoma of DaVinci Custom Travel. D'Attoma also secured the appointment with Mayor Variati.

"This was a wonderful opportunity for these folks to not only see the beautiful town of Vicenza but also spend time with its dignitaries," says D'Attoma. Vicenza was declared the 'sister city' to Cleveland in May 2009 when Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson traveled to Vicenza to meet with Variati. A delegation led by Mayor Variati also visited Cleveland in April 2011.

The connection between the two cities began in 1932 when the city of Vicenza sent a large boulder carved from the side Monte Grappa to the Italian Cultural Garden as a war memorial honoring Italian-American soldiers of Ohio's 332nd infantry who fought on Monte Grappa during World War One. The April 2011 visit included a ceremony at the Italian Cultural Gardens in Cleveland commemorating the gift of the boulder and acknowledging those Italian-Americans who served in the battle at Monte Grappa.

"The visit to Vicenza was a treat during our exciting and memorable trip to Italy," says Fr. Rosing. "We saw and did so many wonderful things while we were there and this was definitely a highlight for us." The group also visited Venice, Florence, Assisi, Orvieto, Verona, Padua, Parma, Perugia and Rome. Fr. Rosing celebrated mass in St. Peter's Basilica in front of St. Peter's Tomb as well as in the Basilica in Assisi. The group attended an audience with Pope Francis and also toured the Chiesa del Gesu, the mother church of the Jesuit Order in Rome.

"Mayor Variati and his staff could not have been more gracious," says D'Attoma. "He greeted us as if we were family and made our entire group feel very welcome."