Home » Kids In Italy » Gladiator School in Rome – Our Family’s Experience
Boys battling like gladiators in a sandy arena while instructor looks on.

Gladiator School in Rome – Our Family’s Experience

Are you heading to Rome with kids and trying to add kid-friendly activities to your itinerary?

Do your children love:

  1. Battles
  2. Gladiators
  3. Ancient Rome
  4. All of the above?

If you chose A, B, C or D – add Rome’s Gladiator School to your list of ‘must-do’ activities in Rome!

I’m a mamma of three living in Italy and although we’ve spent plenty of time in Rome, this was the first time I felt both of my older boys would appreciate the experience (at ages 6 and 9). 

You may also like
The Best Things to Do in Italy with Kids
Where to Go in Italy with Kids

If you’re curious about Gladiator School and what it’s like, read on for the scoop on it, based on our family’s personal experience. 

Andiamo – let’s go!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the links, we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.

What Exactly Is Gladiator School in Rome?

Gladiator School in Rome is a chance for your child to be a gladiator for a day! 

The experience takes place at the home base of the Gruppo Storico Romano (Roman Historic Group), just outside the Rome city walls. 

The two-hour experience includes:

  • a mini history lesson on Roman soldier and Roman gladiator life inside the group’s small museum
  • a Gladiator training session with an instructor
  • the chance for your child to try out his/her new Gladiator skills in a battle arena
  • a certificate of participation

Highlights of Gladiator School for my 6 and 9 year old boys:

  • Trying on full Roman soldier and Roman gladiator gear
  • Taking photos with the wooden cutouts of Roman gladiators
  • The gladiator training session
  • Battling each other in the sandy arena, just like real gladiators did!

Who Will Love Gladiator School (And Who Will Not)

My boys loved the active experience of Roman Gladiator School

Gladiator School isn’t for everyone!  As much fun as our boys had, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone blindly.  Things to think about when you’re deciding if Gladiator School is a good choice for your family:

  • The minimum age is 6 years old.  If you’ve got other smaller children in your group, there’s not a ton to do onsite for two hours. 
  • Part of the experience is an educational museum visit.  My kids loved learning about the gladiators and soldiers and seeing the Roman weapons and equipment that they’d read about in books.  This part of the school was a pleasant surprise for me – we all learned so much and loved the hands-on aspect of the soldier and gladiator museum.
  • You may get dirty, and if you’re visiting in the summer, it will be hot. 
  • Most of the experience is active – training and battling.  If your kids love to move – great!  If yours aren’t interested in the training and battling, it’s a pricey experience.
  • Groups can be large.  On our winter visit, our family was the only group at the school.  Our instructor told us there are often more than 20 participants in the summer sessions.  If you’re looking for a 1-on-1 experience or a lot of dedicated attention, it will be hard to come by in the summer.
  • Tickets are over €100 per participant.  On our visit, the cost was €120 per child.  If you’re visiting Rome on a budget, there are plenty of other fun activities that you can do for less money.
  • The location feels a bit ‘vintage.’  If you’re looking for a modern, very polished location and experience, you may be disappointed in Gladiator School. 
  • It’s a nice way to meet other kids.  Yes, you can go to playgrounds or meet other kids on Rome tours, but this is a nice way for your children to spend time with other kids for a couple of hours.

The Best Time to Participate in Gladiator School in Rome

Outside of summer season is the best time to visit – you’ll have cooler temperatures and there will be fewer students in the school. 

I spoke to our instructor at length about Gladiator School in the summer.  He said June, July, and August are extremely hot.  If you’re only in Rome during these months, it’s best to attend the 9:00am session or after 5:00pm in order to avoid the hottest part of the day.  I’d go for the 9:00am session because I can’t imagine my boys having enough energy to participate and enjoy the school at 5:00pm after a day of Rome exploration in the heat.

Gladiator School – Location & How to Get There

Gladiator School takes place at the home of the Gruppo Storico Romano.

Address: Via Appia Antica, 18
Phone: +39 06 8764 5457
Website: http://www.gruppostoricoromano.it/

Sign showing direction to Gladiator School in Rome. Boys walk toward the entrance on a gravel road.
Follow the signs to the entrance of Gladiator School

Gladiator School is located in a kind of industrial area (but it has trees and greenery) just outside the Rome city walls.  You reach it by traveling on the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica). It’s less than 3 kilometers from the Colosseum to Gladiator School and the best ways to arrive from the center of Rome are by bus or by taxi. 

We took bus 118 from the center of Rome.  We got off at the ancient Roman wall (Mura Aureliane) because my boys wanted to look at it, and then we walked on the Appian Way to the school.  It’s not a super pleasant walk, so I recommend staying on the bus all the way to the stop closest to the school (marked on the map above).  From there, it’s less than five minutes on foot to the school on a quiet dirt road.

To leave, you can have the school call you a taxi or just take the bus (that’s what we did) back to the center.

Good To Know:  Gladiator School’s location borders the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica, so you could visit it before or after your lesson.

Gladiator School – Our Experience

Boy and instructor practice holding a sword and shield like ancient Romans.
My son learning proper technique in the museum

Arrival at the School – We arrived on foot about 10 minutes before the start of the school (late morning).  The school entrance is well-signed from the main road.

The staff greeted us and asked our names and then left us for a few minutes to play games (there’s a foosball table and a few wooden games at the entrance), use the toilet, and get a snack from the vending machine. 

Meeting Our Gladiator Instructor – At the school start time, our gladiator instructor came out to meet us.  A member of the Gruppo Storico Romano, he came out dressed in character and he stayed in character the entire time.  Not only was this fun – it was also helpful keeping kids in line! 

Visiting the Museum – He led us to the small museum, where he helped my boys (and my parents!) try on uniforms and helmets of Roman soldiers and gladiators.  They were also able to hold weapons and learn how they were used.  He talked about daily life of gladiators and soldiers in ancient Rome, and my kids soaked up the kid-friendly explanations.  It was also interesting for the adults in our group.

Putting on Gladiator Gear – Next, my boys got dressed in their gladiator training uniforms (tunic, belt).

Gladiator Training – We walked to the training arena, where the boys got started on their allenamento (training) with their gladiator instructor.  There’s a small, shaded section of bleachers where spectators can sit (and take photos and videos, of course).  The training consisted of a series of exercises.  This was where my boys got a little dirty, getting down doing pushups and falling during some of the exercises.   They got a chance to use small wooden swords and shields to practice techniques.  And, I got some good videos and my kids now want an obstacle course at home!

Gladiator Battle Time – We walked to the sandy arena for the battle!  My boys took turns trying out the skills they’d learned in training using swords and shields.  It was intense but fun as they battled their way to 10 points.  I even got in the ring to try it.

Finishing Up – At the end of the battle, each student is presented with a certificate for completion of the training.  We also took a few photos and then the boys had to turn in their equipment and training uniforms.  My boys took some time to talk to their instructor about the Roman Historic Society and the Roman Empire, his other job (he’s a boxing instructor!), and to look at photos.  We also took turns having our photos taken at the wooden gladiator cutouts – priceless.

We had a fabulous time at Gladiator School and my boys rate it as one of their favorite things they’ve done in Rome.  Proof that fun doesn’t have to be fancy!

Fun Fact (One of Many From Gladiator School): A ‘castrum’ was a war camp for Romans.  The English equivalent is ‘chester,’ so, for example, Manchester in England was originally a Roman war camp.

Gladiator School in Rome – Is It Worth It?

Two boys battling with swords and shields in a sand arena at Gladiator School in Rome while their instructor looks on.
My boys in the final battle in the sandy arena

True, Gladiator school is a little bit ‘out of the way’ in Rome.  It’s a pricey experience (especially with multiple kids), and it’s not super high-tech or polished (feels a bit ‘vintage’).

But when I ask my boys about their favorite things in Rome, Gladiator School is always one of the first things mentioned.

So yes, for our family, it was definitely worth it.  In fact, as soon as my youngest is old enough, I’ll bring him for his gladiator training.

How To Book Gladiator School

You can book Gladiator School in Rome:

  1. Directly through its website. Click on ‘BOOK NOW’ and you’ll be redirected to EventBrite to buy your tickets.
  2. Use a third-party site like GetYourGuide to book Gladiator School in Rome.

You’ll get a voucher for both that you can show at the school on your arrival.

Helpful Tip:  If you’re visiting during the summer months and want to book the first morning session or an evening session, reserve your tickets ASAP.  They sell out quickly!

What to Wear to Gladiator School

Instructor and two students training with swords in a dirt yard at Gladiator School in Rome.
My sons wore sweats and sneakers

You’ll be moving quite a bit and the ground is dirt.  Plan on getting sweaty and a little dirty.

On our winter visit, my boys wore sweatpants, sweatshirts, and sneakers.  At the end of the two hours, they had a little dirt on the knees of their sweatpants, but they were fine walking around the rest of the day in the same clothes.

If you visit in the summer, I recommend shorts or light pants, a comfortable shirt, and close-toed shoes. 

Bring sunscreen for the outdoor part of the experience.  You could try to bring a hat – just make sure it’s tight-fitting so it doesn’t fall off during the training.

Helpful Tip:  Pack baby wipes so you can wipe dirt off shoes (or knees) if you need to.

How to Prepare for Gladiator School in Rome

Read books, watch videos and movies, and soak up all you can about ancient Rome.

Here are some books that my boys have really enjoyed:

What to Do After Gladiator School

If it’s a really hot day, you may want to go back to your room to shower and rest.  Otherwise:

  • Get a gelato!
  • Visit the Colosseum
  • Visit the Appia Antica Regional Park (rent bikes, visit the Catacombs of San Callisto)
  • Choose something from our list of things to do in Rome with kids.

Rome’s Gladiator School – FAQ

Do adults have to participate too? 

No, you can watch.  You don’t need to pay to watch. 

Can small children watch older siblings participate in Gladiator School?

Yes, but know that the Gladiator School museum has breakables and spectators need to sit in the stands during training and battles.  Otherwise, little ones can play in the entrance area.  There is also a small playground that’s about a 12-minute walk from the Gladiator School.

Does the Gruppo Storico Romano do any demonstrations or shows?

Yes, they do have events and shows.  Check the website for the latest calendar of events.

Are there mosquitoes at the Gladiator School? 

There weren’t any around on our winter visit, but I’ve heard they can be feisty at the school in the summer!

Candice Criscione Avatar