199, not out!

Hey everyone!
Here we are, on the cusp of post 200 – can you believe it? I certainly can’t. I mean, when I started this blog last year, I hadn’t thought I’d still here now. Probably thought I’d’ve given up or somesuch. Well, anyway, I continue to entertain/inform/annoy you all (delete as appropriate), so why not just carry on!

It’s been a pretty exciting week, of course, starting with this:

I am very excited! Of course, I’ve been to Milan before, and enjoyed it so much I thought I’d go again, take another look around the city, and perhaps head off further into Italy – I’m intending to go to Brescia if nothing else. Cremona & Piacenza have been floating about in my mind as well, but we’ll have to see how it goes. I’m not going until April, so there’s plenty of time to plan.

I also got to play my first game of X-Wing in along time this week, which was very, very enjoyable! I’ve been off-and-on constructing a new squadron for my next game, which is nearly finalised now, so that’s exciting stuff!

There has been a new preview of one of the upcoming ships for the new Scum & Villainy faction that is due to arrive anytime now really. IG-2000, featuring all four IG-88s as pilots. This whole faction could be a lot of fun – since my renewed interest in the game, I’m going to look into this more in an upcoming blog.

Battlelore

Something that’s pretty exciting is the new Battlelore expansion for the Uthuk Y’llan: Warband of Scorn. Battlelore is one of these games that I’ve only actually managed to play once, so it’s hardly like I need an expansion for it, but even so, it’s exciting! The Uthuk are my favourite faction in the new Terrinoth, and my go-to folks for Rune Age. The Bloodsisters were new in the Oath and Anvil expansion, of course, but we also get some pretty interesting new units here, including the Grotesques, with their magnificently mutated limbs! Fantastic.

Battlelore

 

Previews for Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham and Call of Cthulhu: For the Greater Good fade into comparison by the new Lord of the Rings print-on-demand scenario, Fog on the Barrow-downs! Part of the ongoing series of Saga expansions, it follows the GenCon scenario, The Old Forest, the pair of them forming part of the LCG’s ongoing adaptation of the actual Lord of the Rings storyline. Unfortunately, due to the really high postage costs to get these things to the UK, I’ve been waiting for these things to become available at the local store – The Old Forest came over here at the end of the week, so we’re getting there! Slowly…

Warhammer Ogre Kingdoms

The Ogre Kingdoms collection grows! Well, kinda. I’m still no further forward with the Mournfang Cavalry that I showed off last week, but I’ve been fiddling around with the yhetees as the manager of my local GW store has offered to give me some painting lessons with fur and the like, which is very handy, I thought! Sadly, the yhetee kit is finecast (that is, resin), which gives some really excellent detail, but is renowned for having some ridiculously poor casts (hence the internet portmanteau ‘failcast’), and one of mine has a particularly badly-cast face. My sculpting skills are just not up to the challenge of sorting this with greenstuff, so I’m hoping they will replace it! So yeah… The other two look good, however! Indeed, my ever-growing Ogre family is looking nice, I think! Well, anyway…

Warhammer Ogre Kingdoms

While I’m on the subject of Warhammer, this weekend has seen the fourth release in the End Times saga – Thanquol! Of course, I still haven’t read the Khaine novel yet, but anyway…

Warhammer Thanquol

So like I said at the beginning, this is my 199th post. For my 200th blog, I’m planning something I hope you’ll all enjoy 🙂

Until next time!

My trip to Milan

Ah, here we are again! For my fourth blog, I’d like to reminisce with you good people of the internet about a trip I took to Milan last year. Sigh! It was a really good trip!

The Duomo of Milan
The Duomo of Milan

I’d never been abroad by myself before, but after constantly hearing it broadens the mind, and suchlike, I decided I wanted to make good on what had been a years-long desire to visit Italy, by going to the city with the highest density of English speakers in that country. So off I trundled, and despite the terror of being in a foreign country where I knew nobody and could just about get by in the language, it was a really great time!

Milan is an old city, with as rich a history as any other of the renaissance centres of Italy, though because of that rich and varied history, the city doesn’t look like Florence, or Lucca, or Bologna. Instead, what struck me most when I arrived was how much the city reminded me of London, with a lot of big, stone buildings that makes the experience almost like a walk down Whitehall.

However, renaissance Milan still survives, not least in the Castello Sforzesco.

Castello Sforzesco, Rivellino di Santo Spirito Castello Sforzesco, Cortile DucaleCastello Sforzesco, Piazza d'Armi Castello Sforzesco

The Castello is now an art gallery and museum, but it still looks pretty awesome!

The city was an independent duchy until the sixteenth century, when it became a Spanish possession. Following the War of the Spanish Succession, however, it was ceded to Austro-Hungary, and during the eighteenth century – the Age of Enlightenment – rebuilding has created the look we see today.

Arco della Pace, initially intended to commemorate Napoleon's entry to the city
Arco della Pace, initially intended to commemorate Napoleon’s entry to the city
Teatro alla Scala, the 'cathedral of opera'
Teatro alla Scala, the ‘cathedral of opera’
Piazza Beccaria - Cesare Beccaria was a key figure in Enlightenment Milan
Piazza Beccaria – Cesare Beccaria was a key figure in Enlightenment Milan

The centrepiece of the city is the Duomo, the Cathedral of Milan. Started under the Visconti Dukes of Milan in the fifteenth century, the white Carrara marble that fronts the church and gives it such a stunning appearance today was added for Napoleon Bonaparte’s triumphant entry into the city in 1805 for his coronation as King of Italy. Emerging from the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele into the Piazza del Duomo had a really stunning effect on me, I must say!

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, one of the world's first purpose-built shopping centres
Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, one of the world’s first purpose-built shopping centres
Piazza del Duomo, looking towards the Galleria
Piazza del Duomo, looking towards the Galleria
The Duomo
The Duomo

I met a Canadian chap in the Piazza, who was also travelling alone and was overcome with relief to meet someone who also spoke English! Ah, marvellous! The Duomo is free to enter, but remember that Italy is a staunchly Catholic country, and here the army were guarding the entrance preventing access to anyone inappropriately dressed – they turned one woman away in front of me because her skirt ended above the knee. Inside, the building is surprisingly dark, but I have no pictures because I couldn’t find anyone to buy a photography permit from!

There are more churches in the city than just the Duomo, of course. The most impressive, I found, was San Lorenzo alle Colonne, just a short walk from the Duomo.

San Lorenzo alle Colonne
San Lorenzo alle Colonne
The rear of San Lorenzo alle Colonne. Public executions used to take place here in the middle ages.
The rear of San Lorenzo alle Colonne. Public executions used to take place here in the middle ages.
San Lorenzo alle Colonne - the Roman columns
San Lorenzo alle Colonne – the Roman columns

The name comes from the columns that run in front of the church, which were brought there when the church was built in the fourth century from either a Roman temple of bath house. The Roman connection with Milan is actually quite strong – in the late third century, Maximian built his palace here when the Empire was split, with Diocletian ruling from Nicomedia (in modern-day Turkey). The ruins of the palace were discovered during the second world war bombing of the city.

Maximian's Palace, Milan Maximian's Palace, Milan

Maximian's Palace, Milan
Maximian’s Palace, Milan

Lots of history to be discovered here! I run a history-centric blog on Blogger, where you can read more about the history of the city if you’re interested!

Unfortunately I’ve not been back to Italy since – I suppose it’s a combination of nervousness and a distressing lack of funds. But it’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately, partially the reason for writing this blog, and I hope that I can get back there soon – certainly to revisit Milan, as a start!