I am in seventh heaven. I am staying in the American Academy in Rome for a month, with the aim to get a chapter and a half of my new book written (as well as checking out a few images I really need to see first hand).
It may sound glam. But the truth is that I am not actually enjoying the city much, nor am I planning to (though, I confess, I did walk down the hill from the Academy to have a great meal in Trastevere last night). My days so far have been in the library from before 9.00 till after 7.00, and never have days gone faster, with only a quick coffee and lunch break. That's the bar above where I have my morning coffee and late night grappa.
So why be in Rome?
Partly because it puts a barrier between me and the other demands of life. When did I last get a full day in the library absolutely undisturbed? Partly because it is so proximate to some of the stuff I really need to see again at first hand (like the 'room of the emperors' in the Capitoline Museum).
It feels like being a graduate student again (but without all the time wasting habits). It is possible to work quicker and more effectively in this environment than anywhere I else I know. Much the same goes too for the British equivalent (which has close ties with the American Academy, and where I shall be going next week). It may look like an academic holiday camp in a glorious location, and I am privileged to be here. But it gets the work done, and a half.