Learn to be a Gladiator in Rome!
Prior to a recent trip to Rome, my kids read every Magic Treehouse book about Rome they could get their hands on. What fascinated them most was the life of a gladiator. While not glamorous to me, I saw the opportunity to keep them fascinated with Roman history by capitalizing on their interests. I really wanted this trip to be geared towards them and make it fun.
After a bit of research I found the Gladiator School of Rome. It sounded perfect and had great reviews so I booked a private two-hour session for my children ages 6 and 7. I could hardly contain my excitement!
Going to Gladiator School in Rome
The Gladiator School of Rome is located on historic Appian Way and only 10 minutes from the Colosseum. We arrived to find some modest buildings set up around an outdoor “arena” complete with ancient looking exercise equipment.
After check-in, the kids were each outfitted with a traditional-looking tunic, belt, and training sword known as a rudis. We learned that all of the instructors are members of the Historic Group of Rome, care deeply about Roman history, and have a strong desire to provide guests with an authentic experience. My son especially was so excited and really got into his part!
Tip: If you don’t have a car in Rome, I highly recommend taking Uber and not a taxi to the Gladiator School of Rome. I read stories where taxis either didn’t know how to get to its location or took a long way. Unfortunately, the latter happened to us which nearly ruined our experience. From our experience, Uber in Rome was highly reliable.
You will be challenged both physically and mentally
Our instructor worked really well with the kids, but his teaching style rivaled any professional drill instructor I have ever met. He meant business and set the record straight from the beginning that he was the instructor and they were his pupils. The kids jumped right into their parts and although not intimated, definitely obeyed.
Finally, it was time to enter the arena and learn the skills necessary to fight off ferocious lions and battle other sword-wielding gladiators. The instructor led them through a series of vigorous exercises for nearly 45 minutes. They learned to jump, dodge, and wield a sword. Most importantly he taught them how to anticipate the moves of their opponents and practice determination. It was really fun to watch and the kids loved it!
After a short water break, it was time to put their newly acquired skills to test with a gladiator tournament. The weather had turned to rain so we moved inside where everyone was more comfortable. It was all good-natured but serious business at the same time. The instructor continued to work with them on footing and and both defensive and offensive moves. I don’t remember who ultimately “won,” but both kids were smiling at the end.
The instructors enjoy sharing their love of Roman history
Once the tournament was over, we were led to a small museum with actual artifacts from that time period. There were weapons and body armor we could touch and hold. We were even allowed to try on an ancient iron helmet used during that time period. It was so heavy and no one could imagine being able to fight with that thing on. It was all so impressive!
Learn to become a gladiator before visiting the Colosseum
I decided to schedule our training session prior to visiting the Colosseum so their imaginations would be on overdrive and they would have a better understanding of what being a gladiator actually entailed. It proved to be the best decision ever!
The next day we visited the Colosseum and our visit was much more enhanced after participating in Gladiator School. The kids could really envision gladiators fighting and the crowd roaring. It really brought it all to life.
You may also enjoy:
- Visit Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius in a Day with Kids
- Our Gourmet Guide to Italian Gelato
- Roma Checklist: Top Things to do in Rome, Italy with Kids
- If you’re looking for hotel in Rome, consider Hilton Rome Airport with a regular shuttle to downtown or one of the other Hilton hotels in Rome.
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Know Before You Go
- Feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco was banned in 2008.
- Florence is most famously recognized as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The symbol of the city is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which is full of history and beauty.
- One of the most famous viewpoints in Venice is the Bridge of Sighs.