Rome is a city of echoes, where the voice of the people has chimed and clashed with the words of princes, emperors, and insurgents to ring down the centuries. In this new book, I tell the story of the Romans’ longest standing figurehead and interlocutor: the pope, illuminating how his presence has transformed the lives, stones, and fate of the city of Rome.  

CITY OF ECHOES: A NEW HISTORY OF ROME, ITS POPES AND ITS PEOPLE will be published by Icon (UK) and Pegasus (USA) in September 2023.

Emerging as the anonymous leader of a marginal cult in the humblest quarters of the city, less than 300 years later, the pope sat enthroned in a gilt basilica, endorsed by the emperor himself. Eventually, the Roman pontiff would supplant even the emperors, as de facto ruler of Rome and pre-eminent leader of the Christian world. By the 19th century it would take an army to wrest the city from the pope’s grip.

As the first ever account of how the popes’ presence has shaped the history of Rome, City of Echoes  illuminates the lives of the remarkable and unremarkable men who have sat on the throne of Saint Peter. It also reveals the bold and curious actions of the men, women, and children who have shaped the city with them, from antiquity to today.

In doing so, the book tells the history of Rome as it has never been told before. It also answers a compelling question: how did a man whose authority rests on the blood and bones of martyrs defeat emperors, revolutionaries and fascists to give Rome its most enduring identity?