Sadie and Nell.

Life has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks. Spring has definitely sprung, with summer heat and sun alternating with much-needed rain. I didn’t expect sunburn in late April, but I’m not complaining.

Eli and Solomon.

Before we left to spend the children’s spring break in Spain, we enjoyed two visits from Madison friends and colleagues! Our first visitors were our family friends Sara, Scott, Sadie, and Solomon, followed by one of the first friends we made in Madison, our colleague Diane.

S, S, S, & S are currently on sabbatical in Paris; I had the pleasure of hanging out with them on a work trip to Paris earlier this winter. They bravely decided to drive from Paris to Rome with their two small kids, stopping and tasting wine on several overnight stays along their way. We had a great time reconnecting with them and marveling over how much their kids had grown since we last saw them over the summer. Our kids enjoyed teaching their kids a little Italian and learning some French in return.

Check out the stars on the floor of the Sistine Chapel!

We took an unusual tour of the Vatican museums together, using a tour-guide from Jewish Roma. She has given tours to visitors of all stripes, apparently often working as a guide for cardinals visiting Rome. The highlight of the visit was learning the Jewish history underlying Michelangelo’s vision of the Sistine Chapel and his pointed and sly criticism of the papacy. It turns out that there is Jewish iconography all over the place, including Stars of David in the floor. Who knew?

Diane still going strong after 8 hours of walking Rome.

Within hours of their departure en route back to France, Diane arrived from Florence, where she was attending a conference. It was Diane’s first trip to Italy, and she’s hooked! Because she was only here for one full day, Seth gave her a whirlwind tour of Rome (two thousand years in four hours), culminating in a visit to the Cat Sanctuary at Largo Argentina – a must for any cat lover. If she could have, Diane would have adopted every cat there.

It’s been wonderful being able to share Rome with our Madison friends, and knowing that when we get home, they will be able to share some of our memories of Italy with us!