Cristina Corsi (Fellow IMéRA/LabexMed 2015-2016) est professeur d’archéologie à l’université de Cassino, Italie.
Roads have always been addressed as formidable channels through which people, goods, news, ideas and cultures are transferred. They indeed constitute the ‘circulatory system’ of entities such as regions, states, or continents. They are means through which social, economic and cultural patterns are conveyed, and through which languages, traditions, religions, habits, fashions, musical practices and material culture are transmitted.
Medieval road networks have been studied mainly in their devotional meaning as pilgrimage routes. Innumerable publications investigated these aspects and highlighted the role played by these medieval ‘highways’ in building up the European cultural identity. The plethorical literature on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela is a shining example of that. This approach has been central in setting up networks of cultural institutions and in disseminating research outuputs (mainly through websites, such as http://www.saintjamesway.eu/ and http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/669 for the S. James Way, http://www.viefrancigene.org/en/, http://www.tastingeurope.com/routes/francigena and http://www.rivistaviafrancigena.it/en/ for the Francigena Way, to name but a few).
Most publications adopt an historical perspective rooted in the research of Johan Plesner, first published in 1938. This methodology was refined with the book of Thomas Szabó in 1992, and the works of Tiziano Mannoni (1983, 1992) highly contributed to a more structured archaeological-topographical approach.
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