Pagan Holiday
Pagan Holiday

The ancient Romans were responsible for many remarkable achievements—straight roads, decent plumbing—but one of their lesser-known contributions was the invention of the first tourist industry.

The first society in history to enjoy safe and easy travel, Romans embarked in droves on the original Grand Tour, traveling from the lost city of Troy to the top of the Acropolis in Athens, from the fallen Colossus at Rhodes to the Pyramids of Egypt, ending with the obligatory Nile cruise at the very edge of the Empire. And as travel writer Tony Perrottet discovers, the popularity of this route has only increased with time.

Perrottet first discovered this ancient itinerary when he came across the world's oldest surviving guidebook in the New York Public Library—the Description of Greece, dating back to the second century AD. Intrigued by the possibility of re-creating the tour, and wanting to seize the opportunity for one last excursion with Lesley, his pregnant girlfriend, before their lives changed forever, Perrottet set off to rediscover life as an ancient Roman. He was armed for travel with only the essentials—a backpack full of ancient texts and a second-century highway map reproduced on a twenty foot scroll. As he retraced the historic route, fighting the crowds and reading two-thousand-year-old descriptions of bad food, inadequate accommodations and pushy tour guides, it became clear that tourism has actually changed very little since Caesar's day.

A lively blend of fascinating historical anecdotes and hilarious personal encounters, interspersed with irreverent and often eerily prescient quotes from the ancients, Route 66 AD recaptures the magic of the ancient world in all its complexity and wonder.

"It's so great to have a truly funny (and poetic) writer putting the lurid colors back on the pale marble, where they belong. Perrottet's writing is not only witty (there are passages that make me laugh aloud) but he has that rarest of writers' talents—the knack for finding the perfect metaphor. I've quoted 'The Naked Olympics' more than any other book in recent recollection. It's full of what film-historian T. Gene Hatcher calls the 'get-a-load-of-this' factor—those those juicy, vivid stories you can't wait to tell your friends. To my mind, that quality is the distinguishing trait of great nonfiction."

—Teller of Penn & Teller, entertainer in Las Vegas, author, onetime Classics major and Latin teacher

The Grand Tour of Antiquity: A Photo Gallery

The Gran Tour of Antiquity Photo Gallery

Other Editions Available:

US edition

US Hardcover Edition, Now published in the US in paperback as Pagan Holiday

Also by Tony Perrottet:

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

What was it like to attend the ancient olympic games?

As the summer Olympics return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in all its compelling spectacle.