My QSL card represents, in the background, the beautiful Villa Medici del Vascello, called la "Rocca" (i.e. The Stronghold), built in 1407 by Cabrino Fondulo and then rearranged (several times) over the following centuries up to the present look wanted by marquis Giuseppe Antonio Soresina Vidoni in 1705.

I n the fore ground is reproduced the image of Cecilia Gallerani, who lived in the Villa until her death occurred in 1536.

Cecilia is the famous "The Lady with an ermine" portrayed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1489, during his stay at the court of Ludovico Sforza called il Moro (i.e. The Moor), the lord of the powerful Duchy of Milan. The picture is now kept in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (Poland), which bought it regularly.

Cecilia Gallerani was the mistress of Ludovico the Moro, from whom she had a son, Cesare Sforza Visconti, who bore his father’s surname as he was acknowledged by Ludovico.

Unfortunately, Ludovico had already been betrothed to Beatrice d’Este, the daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, whom he married in 1491 in the Milan Cathedral. The marriage, which had been arranged by arbitration, was necessary to keep the then precarious military balance.

After his wedding to Beatrice, Cecilia could no more live at the court, so Ludovico presented her with the Carmagnola Palace, today’s “Broletto Nuovo”, which is still partially existing in the Via Rovello, Milan. However, the Cecilia’s continuous presence at court caused his relations with father of Beatrice (Duke Ercole I d’Este) to totter, therefore Ludovico arranged Cecilia’s marriage to his very faithful Captain of the Army, Count Ludovico Carminati di Brambilla, called the Bergamino, feudal lord of San Giovanni in Croce, Gussola and Martignana. In 1492 Cecilia married il Bergamino, from whom she had three sons: Giovanni Pietro, Francesco and Giorgio.

In the year 1500 the army of Louis XII of France defeated Ludovico il Moro and after changing fortunes he died at 1508 in the Loches prison in France.

Then Cecilia escaped to Mantua with Leonardo da Vinci, finding asylum at the court of the Ludovico il Moro’s sister-in-law, Isabella d’Este, the wife of Francesco II Gonzaga. Isabella recommended Cecilia to French, from whom she got back the "Rocca" of San Giovanni in Croce, where she died in 1536.

Entering with Google Earth the coordinates 45°04’43.75”N 10°22’21.51”E you can see the Villa from above with its fine garden and magnificent park.