All you need to know about Gladiator School in Rome with kids. What to expect, how to book, and why we consider it one of the best things to do in Rome with kids.
If you are looking for a fun, engaging activity in Rome to keep kids and adults entertained for an afternoon, I highly recommend you consider Gladiator School.
I first heard about this activity from American friends of mine and, to be honest, I had dismissed it as touristy nonsense (I know, I was super judgemental – not a proud moment!)
However, after reading extensively about this and seeing the enthusiasm in my kids’ eyes when I suggested we tried it, I booked it and wow!
We had so much fun!
We did Rome gladiator school as a family: me, my husband and our kids aged 10 and 11, and it was by far one of the most enjoyable, funny and bonding activities we have ever done.
I now recommend it to all families in Rome and consider it one of the very best things to do in Rome with kids, tweens and teens.
This article reviews our experience, some photos and info to make the most of your experience.
Find here >>> our complete list of the best things to do in Rome with kids
Please note: this post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Gladiator School in Rome for kids – The best age for Gladiator School
Gladiator School offers classes for kids age six and up, and I believe they are correct with this age recommendation.
From age 6, children will love all parts of the class, including the museum introduction and be able to do the many activities involved.
My children were 10 and 11 when we did it and they had the most fantastic, engaging time, so I highly recommend gladiator school for tweens too.
Find here >>> more things to do in Rome with tweens
Teenagers and grown-ups can also have a fabulous time: the mix of history and movement, the dressing up and the combination of serious learning, exercise and the silly sight of your parents dressed up as legionaries is a guaranteed success with teens!
The Gladiator School of Rome runs family-friendly classes to teach about Gladiator training and games.
However, it is not a place for kids as such: Gruppo Storico Romano, the organization that runs it, is a group devoted to careful historical research and re-enactments, and their activities are for grown-ups as well as children.
Because of this, while we recommend Rome’s Gladiator School for kids, the school is not for them only: if you have college students with you for instance, this would be a great team building, fun activity for them too!
Gladiator school Rome with kids – what to expect
We booked our gladiator class with Gruppo Storico Romano for an afternoon in July.
The school is on Ancient Via Appia and requires a short taxi ride to get there: however, it is not far from Circus Maximus and the Colosseum by car, so the ride wasn’t too long nor expensive.
As we arrived, we walked in to find a shaded, green area, which made us feel as if we had stepped into ancient times!
Signs in Latin identified a taberna (what would have been a cafe in ancient times), and we quickly saw the training arena and show area.
Since we were a little early, we sat under the shade waiting for our turn: the children got well entertained by the swing and the small playground area just outside the arena, which made the waiting pleasant.
At class time, our Gladiatrix and trainer came to us, we met the others in our group, and our experience started!
First stop: the museum of gladiators and Roman army
Our lesson started in the small but rich gladiator school museum.
The museum is a large room with tons of objects and artifacts: here, you can see helmets, ancient style make-up and jewelry, miniature reconstructions of Roman military camps, swords, and armors – the list is endless!
Our guide let us wander and explore and then she used some of the objects in the museum to explain about the Roman army and the reason for its success.
The history of the Roman army and wars is strongly connected with that of gladiators and this part of the tour was very informative and fun (we got to try on lots of stuff!). It was perfect to put the following activity in context.
Second stop – the armory: the second stop in our tour was the armory, which is incredible!
The armory is a room packed with battle equipment: legionary armors, spires, shields: all things you can try to wear and, under close supervision, use.
While we were there, two people were working repairing equipment, and it was fantastic to see them at work with leather, metal and hammers, it added an extra layer of interest to the whole thing!
Third activity: setting up camp
After we learned about the life of Roman legionaries and tried on their armor, we tried our hand at one of the most common activities for a Roma soldier: secure camp!
This was one of the most hands-on parts of the class and one of the kids’ favorites.
To secure camp, Romans used to build spikey fences able to keep the enemy horses at bay. These fences can be assembled in about 5 seconds; however, there is a bit of a skill to them which turned the whole building process into a fun game!
Our trainer divided us into teams of two (she mixed people from different families, which was fun) and we went head to head to try and build the fence.
It was super fun and the youngest children especially kept asking to do it ‘again, again! Which our guide was happy to facilitate.
Fourth activity: training like a gladiator!
Being a gladiator is hard work; to try your hand at it, you need to be fit, so our guide put us to do a warm-up!
This is precisely what you think it is: a workout!
The Gladiator School outdoor arena is an outdoor, sandy area partially covered by trees and excellent exercise space. Our trainer created a short circuit for us and we all did our bit: we jumped, pushed, bent and engaged all the main muscle groups a real gladiator would have needed to fight.
The exercise is not strenuous and you can do as much or little as you want: however, the more you do it, the more fun it is! Just be prepared for coming out of it quite dusty: there is a sink to wash hands but you will need a full shower after this training! (Actually: we were ok to go for dinner out after this but were very happy to hit the shower when finally home)
Fifth activity: learning to fight like a gladiator
After you work out, you are ready to train in gladiators’ skills and our teacher taught us how to use a wooden sword.
This part of the class makes the whole experience suitable for older kids only.
The wooden sword is not dangerous if d properly but can hurt people if mishandled. Toddlers would be at risk of hitting others and possibly themselves, and even with grown-ups, our gladiatrix teacher would accept no messing.
This was great and I appreciated how strict she was about discipline, especially when my kids were paired up with others for the exercise.
The exercise with the sword is not dangerous and feels almost like a martial art or a dance: a particular movement of the attacker sparks a specific counter move from the defender so that the whole experience feels safe, fun and beautiful to watch
Sixth activity: show time!
After the training, it is time for the show! Beside the training arena, the school has a second one for shows and we all moved there for the final part of the class.
The arena has many seats for the audience; one of them is a triclinium (ancient roman bed) for the emperor: I was lucky to secure that for myself!
All the other participants fought in the arena in front of me: to allow for a safe but engaging show, the wooden swords were replaced by padded ones that allowed the kids to go a little mad while fighting their dad.
It was great fun and the kids won!
At the end of the class, we received our gladiator certificates and a gladiator name. It was the perfect, solemn end to a great experience.
How to get to gladiator school in Rome
Rome’s Gladiator School is on Via Appia 18, immediately outside of the center.
The best way to get there is by taxi: the ride only takes a few minutes from the Colosseum area or from the city center. In normal traffic conditions, it doesn’t take more than 10, possibly 15 minutes, if not less.
The school will call a cab for you at the end of the class if needed.
The closest metro station is Metro B Circo Massimo and there is also bus 118 arriving nearby.
I do not recommend walking to the school. This stretch of Via Appia has no pavement and cars go very fast: it is not a pleasant nor a safe walk.
The best time to go to Gladiator School with kids
The best time for a gladiator class for kids depends on the season.
We went in July, probably the worst time of the year in terms of heat, but we did well thanks to a late start.
In summer, the best time of day for gladiator school is the late afternoon.
In winter and milder seasons, you can pick any time that suits you. Since the exercise will have you a little sweaty and possibly dusty, I recommend scheduling gladiator school as the last activity of the day.
Practical tips for gladiator school in Rome + how to book
The best way to book Gladiator School is:
By email, contacting Gruppo Storico Romano directly
By booking On GetYourGuide by clicking on this affiliate link
Some practical tips and considerations about going to gladiator school with kids you may find useful
- In summer especially, bring mosquito and insect repellent: the mosquitoes here are voracious!
- Wear comfortable, breathable clothing that you don’t mind getting a little dusty.
- Wear comfortable shoes like trainers or walking sandals
- Come towards the end of the day so you can then go home and wash off the dust
- Make sure your phone is charged for taking lots of photos.
- We went to Gladiator School in the afternoon, then had dinner and finally went for a night visit to the Colosseum. If available at the time of your visit, this was a lovely way to spend a day. Like a real gladiator, you train, make your way into Rome and then enter the Colosseum: a great way to make it even more real for the kids!
I hope you enjoyed this review of Gladiator School with kids and you will try it: for us, it was one of the very best things to do in Rome as a family!
Please note: this review is unsolicited and unbiased and we paid in full for our class.