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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The sights in Italy #2

Anastasia travelled the previous weekend to Florence, sitting on the plaza in front of the towering Duomo and walking inside the lavishly decorated Basilica next to it. On each side of the Basilica were beautiful relief doors depicting Biblical scenes. One of the doors was worked in gold and was not at all tarnished: it shone as though polished by the sun itself and was the most captivating aspect of the plaza. Inside were golden mosaics covering the entirety of its dome and beautiful ancient architecture. The next day, she visited the museums; the most memorable piece of art was Michelangelo’s David. At first it seemed as though there was no point in seeing it because of multiple illustrations and photos seen beforehand; but in reality the larger-than-life figure was breathtaking and nothing of its grandeur or vivacity had been conveyed in the textbook photos.
The next weekend, Anastasia spent back at Schloss Brunnenberg. She took time to walk through the vineyards in the morning, the plants a lively, bright green and covered with dew. All around the grape vines grew flowers – blue little bell-shaped flowers, pink and white clover, yellow bunches of flowers peeking through the long, matted straw. Jeans wet up to the knee from the night’s rain, she waded through the flora across the steep and lush slopes, a misty view of the mountains encircling the miniature of the city of Merano below. And on the way back she trekked up cobble stones covered with overripe cherries that had fallen from the dark green foliage above.
With fellow students, she spent time in both Dorf Tirol and in Merano relaxing on walks through the cities and eating at packed pizzerias in the afternoon. Everywhere, there are ice cream stands and little cafes, all along the riverside. There are boutiques on winding streets for the shopping-inclined, and one can always orient by the tall steeple of the city’s main church. The buses run mostly on schedule and the view from the vehicle window is picturesque.
Bryan enjoyed taking the gondola up one of the mountains and hiking around on the trails for several hours. Restaurants provided a lovely meal and place to sit with a spectacular view as one enjoyed the fresh air up upon the mountain and watched a thunderstorm roll into the valley. His cousin also managed to visit for a weekend, providing a change of company for a few days. He was rather surprised by the fact that many people have walking trails running through their vineyards or orchards.
There was another concert at Schloss Tirol, a wonderful quartet that played classical music from the sixteenth century. It was extremely interesting to see the instruments from a time long gone, which by themselves were arguably better than the singers. Nick, one of Mary’s grandsons, also led the group on a tour throughout the vineyard and over his wine-making operations. We all got to see how the grape vines were planted, cared for, differentiated, and harvested. He also highlighted many of the differences between each different kind of grape and what makes them unique, such as the amount of sunlight falling on the grapes and even the amount of wind they endure.

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