Pagan Holiday
Pagan Holiday

Other Editions Available:

US edition

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

UK edition

UK edition

Australian edition

Australian edition

German edition

German edition


Just when it seemed certain that travel writers had exhausted the pantheon of destinations, Perrottet offers a fresh perspective—by taking the route most traveled.  From Rome to Naples to Sparta to Cairo, Perrottet... presents a delightful reminder of how little men and women of leisure have changed. As he tells it, first-century tourist traps rise from the page in scenes so familiar and vibrant that it becomes difficult to discern whether the past is present, or the present, past.  That temporal illusion is the book's real triumph. 
- Publisher's Weekly

"'Scusi—where are the penises?'  asks Tony Perrottet's pregnant girlfriend Lesley, at the start of the Grand Tour-style romp through the great sites of the ancient world.  (The penises in question, in case you're wondering, are wall paintings preserved in the prostitute quarters of Pompeii).  Usually found swashbuckling in wilder places like Pago Pago, Aussie traveler Perrottet accommodates Lesley's delicate condition by joining the tourist hordes passing through Greece, Turkey and Egypt.  But he discovers that the trip is not for the faint-hearted,  and that tourism hasn't changed much over the years.  The Romans "complained about hard mattresses and bad service... and bought cheesy souvenirs wherever they went."  Retracing the ancients' strangely familiar steps, Perrottet finds something truly rare: a fresh, funny take on this beaten path.
- Outside magazine

A wonderful, offbeat, illuminating book written by a wonderful, offbeat, illuminating author, Route 66 AD chronicles the original road trip, the ur-journey that sprung a Pandora's box of Kerouacs and wood-paneled cross-country station wagons.  A great read!
- Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert

An appealing mix of the zany and the arcane, juggling an energetic account of ancient Roman travel habits with a witty record of his own modern journey...  (Perrottet's) insistence on seeing what the ancients saw, no matter the filth, decay and craven commercialism obscuring most ancient sites, becomes a terrific running gag.  One scuba impresario thinks he's crazy to want to attempt a dive in the Bay of Naples in the rain, but Perrottet won't be deterred, and when he finally sees, underneath a layer of ''verdant slime,'' the remnants of the Roman resort of Baiae, he makes you understand his excitement: ''Up on the surface, spitting out a laboratory full of bacteria, I felt like—at last!—I'd beheld the Roman past directly."
- New York Times Book Review

A sparkling adventure... Perrottet is an energetic joker and a wry tale-teller.
- Sunday Times (London)

Australian travel-writer Perrottet makes the most of an inspired notion: to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Romans, who once visited with enthusiasm and wonder the far reaches of their extensive empire.  Perrottet is an amiable and informed tour guide.  He knows the significance of what he sees, from Pompeii to Troy to Cairo, and he recognizes as well the humor and irony... A rollicking Roman holiday.
- Kirkus Reviews

Brilliantly researched and beautifully written...
- Rocky Mountain News

Perrottet has not only appeased the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (whose mummified flesh he touched in Room 354 of the Cairo Museum of Antiquities), he has produced a charming popular history of ancient Roman sightseeing, an activity they loved as much as we do.  A grand tour in ancient times was no Butterfield & Robinson trip, and neither is his.  He sleeps in a string of dives and takes the cheapest, most unreliable forms of transportation short of the iron-wheeled carts of antiquity.  But Perrottet presses on and makes it home safe and unsmitten by ill-tempered gods.
- Forbes FYI

Who would've believed that today's camera-toting, fannypacked hordes could be blamed on the ancient Romans?  Route 66 AD regales the reader on every page with wonderfully quirky insights about the world's earliest tourists.  Perrottet succeeds where most fail—namely, in writing about travel in a way that's witty, smart and fun.       
- Jason Wilson, series editor of The Best American Travel Writing

To prove that little has changed over the centuries, Perrottet... follows the map drawn by Roman war hero Macus Agrippa, traveling along the same routes used by Horace and Pliny. The result is a fascinating and often humorous look at a world long gone.  Perrottet's writing sparkles with descriptions of modern and ancient misadventures...     
- Library Journal

Roll over, Homer!  Here's the ancient world as we've never seen it before: through the eyes of the original Roman sightseers, as related by a beseiged travel writer.  Learned, hilarious, hair-raising—and with the best last line since Joyce's Ulysses.  
- John Colapinto, contributing editor Rolling Stone

A whimsical trek through classical history... This book belongs in the genre of joyful peregrination.  Perrottet dwells untiringly on the bacchanalian side of Roman life, which may bar the book from many a school library.  It's a splendid trip, with two gutsy companions, and by the end, the reader may need a shower as much as they do.
- Washington Post Book World

Perrottet is a nearly unflappable traveler, and terrifically funny writer; this history-cum-travelogue is as enjoyable as it is informative, and twice as quirky."
- Boston Globe

Getting out those summer books?  Let me recommend Route 66 AD.  Like most good travel books, Perrottet's jaunty excursion makes one alternately eager to get on the road and happy to stay at home, relieved that someone else has gone forth in the heat of the day and done the journey.  His boisterous prose style reminds me somewhat of the style of his fellow Australian, Robert Hughes...
- New York Press

Wunderbar!  A deliciously juicy, and at the same wonderfully academic,
- Der Spiegel (Germany)

"TONY DOES TROY: Prodigious research... a compendium of vivid quotation from ancient authors, some marvellously obscure.  Debating the value of travel with a monk in the Peloponnese, Perrottet approvingly quotes St Augustine: 'The world is a book.  He who stays at home reads only one page.'  He's attempting to read the past, not in order to lament vanished civilizations, but to celebrate 'archaeology in reverse': the ways in which 'the past is deftly salvaging the ruins of the present.'"
- The Guardian (London)

"Rings wonderfully true.  Perrottet knows a lot about the Roman world, and has rightly seen that the modern romantic desire for deserted ruins is quite at odds with the seedy hustle and bustle that would have characterized the most famous monuments of the ancient world itself..."
- Times Literary Supplement (London)

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.