Keywords: Free Roads; Custom Duties; Jurisdictional Fragmentation; Local Practices.
Circulation of goods on specific sections of major communication routes in early modern eastern Piedmont, commonly known as «free roads», enjoyed privileges of exemption from customs duties. Usually, such privileges arose as a result of interaction among local lordships or communities before being recognized, for political or economic reasons, by the states whose changing borders met in the region between the 16th and 18th centuries. «Free roads» were typically located in areas characterized by persistent jurisdictional fragmentation and competition as well as scattered settlement. In this geopolitical context, which favoured the creation of changing route alternatives, they often amounted to forms of localized social practice rather than of physical infrastructure.