Immersion Journeys in Italy, France and Spain

On April 2nd, 2021 by Pam Mercer

Good Friday in a Small Tuscan Village

Posted In:
Life in Tuscany | Reflections

Good Friday

By: Pam Mercer

Let me take you back to the morning of Good Friday in years past.  The Church in our small Tuscan village is filled with spring flowers, some from the fields, others from florists – and the feeling is of spring life and joy.   By sunset, the flowers are gone and in their place are the wooden statues of Mary, whose heart is pierced by an arrow and Christ, beautiful and holy and damaged.  A group of women take the statue of Mary and hoist it up on their shoulders, while a group of men take the Christ and follow behind the women.  The entire village, each person carrying a candle proceed behind.  In the past, one of the village leaders, Giancarlo would walk along the line of mourners admonishing them to keep in a two-by-two line.  He has gone on now, but his memory seems to keep us in order just the same.

We walk through the town and up the hill, singing.  Georgia and Laura lead the chanting hymns that connect us to the past and give us hope for the future.  The priest leads the way, followed by children in long white robes.  Our girls were part of the children’s procession when they were younger, and I always wondered at the generosity of the Catholic Priest who allowed our half Jewish children to participate in this ritual that was of such great significance to the community we had raised them in.

As we walk, those carrying the statue are occasionally relieved by others to take up the burden and honor of carrying the sacred.    We walk past huge bon fires made from the prunings of the olive trees, a harkening back to the Pagan times that must still be somewhere in our DNA.   We carry our candles – long and protected with a plastic covering to keep the wind from blowing them out.  There are 200 of us or more.  Some of us gossip and chat until Giancarlo’s ghost wags a finger at us and returns us to the solemnity of the moment.

At the end of the procession, the statues are set down in front of the Church and one by one we approach Mary and the Christ.  Some will touch the hem of her gown, some the wound in his side, some will kiss the feet of the venerated.  Worshiped, adored, revered, grieved: they offer a moment of connection to the divine, forgiveness and wholeness,  both in our own bodies and souls and in the body of the community.

In the end, the children take off their white robes and run to play hide and seek in the Piazza.  The statues of Mary and Jesus are moved back into the church to wait for Sunday and for the coming years when they will accompany us once again on the journey up the hill and back to our homes.

I always say that I am 1/3 Protestant, 1/3 Pagan and 1/3 Catholic.  But on Good Friday, I am simply myself participating in an ancient ritual that unites my past, present and future and reminds me of the sacredness of life and the importance of community.

Note: Our town's Good Friday celebrations are not happening this year due to COVID.

On August 28th, 2020 by Pam Mercer

Tuscany Tours Team Update – Comings & Goings

Posted In:
People | Tuscany Tours Team

Shauna & Jaimi in Florence

“In Bocca al Lupo” – Good Luck Shauna!

Pam and Sam (Tuscany Tours founders) and Shauna had kids in first grade together a very long time ago in northern California.  When we discovered that she was an accountant, we saw an awesome opportunity, so Shauna became our bookkeeper over 12 years ago!  As Tuscany Tours grew, Shauna’s role expanded to also include Trip Designer and ultimately Manager of our far-flung team of travel planners. Now she’s headed off to new horizons, and we will miss her greatly.  Many of you have had connections with Shauna over the years; if you’d like to say good-bye and good luck please email her at (her email address will be active for another couple of weeks).



Meet Tuscany Tours Newest Team Members – Jeremy and Sherry!

Jeremy Cotroneo loves travel, especially little-known regional specialties.  You can often find him searching for the most out-of-the-way and best local restaurants for our travelers who like to go “off-road.”  He is fascinated by experiencing new cultures and has spent the majority of his professional life creating multi-cultural connections through planning travel and teaching internationally.  Jeremy considers himself fortunate to be in a career which allows him to make deep personal connections with people and help reach a common goal together, whether it be finding the vacation sweet spot or passing an exam.

Jeremy grew up in California and a trip to Italy changed his life!  Studying abroad in college introduced him to the joy of travel and experiencing cultural diversity, his passions ever since.  He spends most of the year in Tuscany, where he is constantly searching for the perfect aperitivo with a view (if you think you’ve found it let him know!).

A lover of all things outdoors, eremy hikes a portion of the Via Francigena Pilgrim Trail every year, and his goal is to complete the whole Italian portion, from the Swiss-Italian border to the heel of Puglia, all on foot.

He loves planning trips, whether his own or our clients’, and has a particular eye to each individual traveler’s needs.


Sherry Trantow grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  While raising her two children she took classes at Rochester, Minnesota community technical college where she graduated with an honors associate degree in accounting.  She was a bookkeeper for 10 years and then decided to try out something new that would put her more in contact with people and she went back to school and studied dental hygiene which she practiced for thirteen years.  Now she is returning to her accounting roots to work for Tuscany Tours.

Sherry has a daughter and a son and 3 step-sons.  When she is not working, she is a runner and has run 17 marathons but will stick to half marathons now.  She has served as the treasurer for her church.  She loves to sew quilts and knit and is always just finishing a cardigan for a family member.  A lover of travel who has journeyed extensively, she is also an avid reader and will fit right in with our travelers!



Benvenuto a Louis!

Rubina is the manager of our public tours, but recently she has been the manager of her new baby boy.  Louis was born in April and has kept his mamma and papa busy and happy.  He’ll grow up learning French, Italian and English, and we welcome him into the Tuscany Tours community!







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