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  • Published: 13 June 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529935844
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Catherine Fletcher
  • RRP: $36.99

The Roads To Rome

A History

Brimming with life and drama, this is the first book to explore two thousand years of European history through one of the most important imperial networks ever built

'All roads lead to Rome.' It's a medieval proverb, but it's also true: today's European roads still follow the networks of the ancient empire and continue to grip our modern imaginations as a physical manifestation of Rome’s ‘extraordinary greatness’.

Over the two thousand years since they were first built, the roads have been walked by crusaders and pilgrims, liberators and dictators, but also by tourists and writers, refugees and artists. As channels of trade and travel, and routes for conquest and creativity, Catherine Fletcher shows how the roads forever transformed the cultures, and intertwined the fates, of a vast panoply of people across Europe and beyond.

The Roads to Rome is a magnificent journey into a past that remains intimately connected to our present. Travelling from Scotland to Cádiz to Istanbul and back to Rome, we meander and march through a series of nations and empires that have risen and fallen. Along the way, we encounter spies and bandits, scheming innkeepers, a Byzantine noblewoman on the run, young aristocrats on their Grand Tour, a conquering Napoleon, Keats and the Shelleys, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and even Mussolini on his motorbike.

Reflecting on his own walk on the Appian Way, Charles Dickens observed that here is ‘a history in every stone that strews the ground.’ Based on outstanding original research, and brimming with life and drama, this is the first book to explore two thousand years of history through one the greatest imperial networks ever built.

  • Published: 13 June 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529935844
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Catherine Fletcher
  • RRP: $36.99

About the author

Catherine Fletcher

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. Her previous books include The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici and The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story. Catherine is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.

Also by Catherine Fletcher

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Praise for The Roads To Rome

In her magnificently imagined and vividly composed book, Catherine Fletcher gives new meaning to the word journeyman (these days journeyperson). Among her pages, we journey the thousands of miles of Roman roads from 500 BCE to the present and are never made timeless or homeless. Fletcher offers us justification for an infinity of plannable holidays or long hours of cosy reading at home. All readers should direct themselves to her Romes.

Richard Bosworth, author of MUSSOLINI'S ITALY

Catherine Fletcher’s mastery of history and storytelling converge beautifully in this captivating exploration of the Roman roads. She expertly leads us on a journey that reaches from Rome to Spain to Constantinople, and from the remote past into the present. A must-read for tourists and armchair travellers alike.


This is history quite literally following in the footsteps of the past: covering and uncovering the ways in which the Roman road network has become part of the DNA of every society since. It’s a magical and informative ode to the majesty and mystical power of the humble roadway.

Michael Scott, Professor of Classics and Ancient History, University of Warwick

The Roads to Rome is a vibrant, enchanting and rich compendium. Catherine Fletcher is an essential guide to the many hidden layers of history beneath our feet.

Kelcey Wilson-Lee, author of DAUGHTERS OF CHIVALRY

Past and present cleverly entwine in Catherine Fletcher’s erudite, entertaining and infinitely readable journey along the roads that stitch Europe’s history together.

Helena Attlee, author of THE LAND WHERE LEMONS GROW

With verve and expertise, Catherine Fletcher has tramped the far-flung Roman roads of Europe and created a delightful, novel and authoritative history from the ground up.

Judith Herrin, author of BYZANTIUM

Epic and witty ... Fletcher is a thoroughly enjoyable narrator because she peppers her learned prose with wry humour, first-person asides and comparisons between past and present ... The Roads to Rome is a nuanced and perceptive book that interrogates "the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are"

Tobias Jones, Observer

[A] terrifically researched, sweeping study into the idea (or conception) of the Roman road

Unseen Histories

Roman roads run everywhere, and Fletcher has been on most of them ... It has been her labour of love to crisscross an entire continent ... Fletcher's book is an exemplar of history as travelogue. It presents a familiar panorama - of Europe since antiquity - but from an unfamiliar, even original perspective ... The roads themselves are Fletcher's stars: sources of prosperity but also danger, stages on which to compete for and assert status, vectors of destiny that take men from where they cannot stay to where they must go ... The camaraderie she generates with fellow travellers, dead as well as living, engages and inspires.

Miles Pattenden, Literary Review

[A] rich narrative of the long afterlife of Rome's roads

Michael Prodger, New Statesman

Elegantly plottedIt is no easy task to condense 25 centuries of history into 300 pages and Fletcher, whose area of expertise is Renaissance Europe, rises to the challenge For modern Grand Tourists, Fletcher’s book will provide an enjoyable distraction when the journey to Rome gets dull

Patrick Kidd, The Times

Fletcher is a rare thing: an academic who writes beautifully and accessibly about big subjects, and this travelling history of the network of roads emanating from the Roman capital and covering much of our continent promises to be utterly riveting, filled with golden nuggets of information all rendered in Fletcher’s flowing and witty prose. She is also prepared to put in the miles, ending the book with the dust of 14 countries on her shoes in a quest to uncover the secrets of this remarkable network

Charlie Connelly, The New European

This work, of course, is much more than an exploration of Roman road building achievement: what Catherine also offers us is her personal experience of following and enjoying the variety of routes that have taken her across the breadth of the Roman world. The result is an encyclopaedic unveiling of her extensive literary and cultural appreciation of what has happened on these routes and who has been there.

Trevor James, Aspects of History

Very readable ... these routes are almost a natural part of the landscape. The reader departs the book with a feeling that they have been there for an unimaginable time, travelled on by a cast of vivid characters. It is a compelling image, in an enjoyable book.

Robert Wright, Financial Times