As I mentioned before during Rome Week here on Midlist Writer, Italian military historian Piero Crociani was a huge help during my research trip. He's written numerous books on the uniforms of the Italian army and the various states that existed before unification and is considered one of the foremost authorities on the subject.
He's also an authority on Rome, and I was lucky to be able to tap into his font of knowledge. For example, this strange building near the Colosseum caught my eye. It has a medieval look but had obviously been turned into apartments at one time before becoming derelict. Now it's under restoration. I mentioned the building to Crociani and he told me it was a medieval tower owned by one of the many rich families of Rome, who often had bloody power struggles with one another. A few decades ago it was home to a society of military collectors. How appropriate!
Here's another view of the same building.
Piero was interested to hear of my writing. When I told him about the many different subjects write about he laughed and said, "You are wasting your life in the best possible way!" An odd compliment but I'll take it as it was intended. :-)
He laughed again when I told him on the last day of my trip that I hadn't gotten to do much sightseeing. "I've spent so much time in photo archives I haven't had much time for me."
He laughed and put a hand on my shoulder.
"Be honest, Sean! That time was for you too. Be honest!"
Well hey, it's true. I do like a good archive.
And I did get to do some sightseeing, including visits to lesser-known spots like the Arch of Janus shown here. Built in the fourth century either under the Emperor Constantine or his son Constantius II, it actually never was dedicated to Janus. That's a later embellishment. Like the tower above, it served as part of a family fortress during the Middle Ages.
Janus makes an appropriate symbol for my trip to Rome. The god of portals, gateways, and beginnings and endings is a perfect summary of any writer's career. With his two faces he looks back at past accomplishments and mistakes, and looks forward to the future. I'm looking back with pleasant memories at my time in Rome, and looking forward to visiting again!