Remember Russell Crowe, before he was the portly owner of a rugby league team, and only got around town in his South Sydney Rabbitohs tracksuit pants and baseball cap? It’s getting harder to reconcile, but Crowe is the same bloke who played Maximus Decimus Meridius in the film Gladiator.

All rippling muscles and rousing speeches, Crowe ended up winning an Academy Award for his portrayal of the real-life gladiator Marcus Macrinus, and now if you’re in Rome for a day, you can spend a few hours pretending to be the famous warrior too.

Regardless of your physical shape, or gender, the Gruppo Storico Romano is a cultural association that runs “gladiator for a day” courses, where they’ll happily school you in the skills that were needed to become a gladiator over 2,000 years ago.

Appropriately located off the ancient road of Via Appia Antica 18, the two-hour experience is the only tourist-friendly version of other, more earnest, courses that can take up to six weeks.

what better way to ease any tensions between you and your travel companions?

The costumes might be a little daggy, and the swords all made of foam, but the staff are members of the Historic Group of Rome, so they know their stuff.

After warming up with some brief history, you’ll learn the moves required to survive the battle arena, before getting outside for some harmless one-on-one battles of your own – what better way to ease any tensions between you and your travel companions?

Founded over 20 years ago, the Gruppo Storico Romano also has an on-site museum, with life-size displays of different gladiator weapons, armour and war-machines.

Entry is free, if you’re part of the gladiator school, and it’s worth dusting off your tunic and popping your head in afterwards, because like a lot of things in Rome, the most enjoyable way of learning about its past is whenever you’re holding a piece of it in your hands.

Click here for more info.


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