First of all, thanks to everyone whos e-mailed me with sympathy for my many stupid troubles and problems. I really appreciate the support, and it helps me keep things in perspective in terms of the sheer number ofg people who are pulling for me at home and in various places. So thanks. I dont want anyone to feel badly for me, though, because I am, afterall, in Europe, not working, just travelling around and learning and doing cool stuff. When I start to complain a lot, you can feel free to remind me of that fact.

So Pisa. My hosts, the Del Guerra family, are extremely gracious and welcoming. Gabriele is a wealth of knowledge abotu the history and culture of the surrounding countryside, and he knows a hell of a lot about the history of the art and architecture as well. Its a real treat to be with someone who has an inate knowledge of really old crap and who can tell, just at a glance, what stuff was built in the 10th & 11th centuries and what was added later as well as when it was added, what the political/social reasoning behind it was, etc. Very cool to meet someone whose interests in these things so closely match my own, but who actually knows something. Mr. & Mrs. Drel Guerra are fantastic as well, welcoming me into their home on Saturday night when I arrived, nearly unannounced, just before and subsequenrtly feeding me tons of food twice a day until I think I might burst. Its really awesome eating real Italian food all the time and drinking good wine with every meal. I wish I was a little better about food, though, because I could make a small portion of the food that Im having here back home and be a happy boy.

Ive been plenty of interesting places–nearby historical towns, up in the Leaning Tower of Pisa, all over Pisa on foot and in a car–and met interesting people, and its really very relaxing. The Del Guerra family has an apartment upstairs from their home (that they used many years ago while their house was having WWII damage repaired) where I sleep. I come downstairs each morning and have to convince someone (Gabriele or his mother) anew that I dont, in fact, want anything to eat because its not time for my body to eat something yet. Gabrieles friends are amazing, too–friendly, outgoing and they all speak such good english that it makes me embarassed even more to speak only a word or two of Italian. Im trying to learn, though, and I get to have at least one interesting discussion a day about subtelties of language differences between English and Italian. Very exciting for the displaced linguist in me.

My knee has almost healed (it only seems to hurt when Im going down a flight of stairs anymore) and my cough seems to be stable and not very annoying, although I hate coughing when Im around strangers lest they think Im a consumptive or something. I think Ill head north in 2 days, after spending a day in Florence (just because I can…). After that, I dont know what Ill do–Im looking into quick flights from London to Dublin or the like. Maybe I can add another quick stop onto this already-crazy trip. Tonight, I play basketball with people who think I have a genetic predisposition to shoot hoops because I was born in the USA. That should be embarassing, but not as embarassing as shooting the champagne cork to the ceiling while opening the bottle of champagne, but thats a whole different story.

Thanks for reading.