When in Rome, Sword Fight at this Gladiator School

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 20 2013 11:04 AM

Gladiator School: Where You Can Fight Like an Ancient Roman

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Photo: Fabiana Formica

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Oh, the charms of a Roman holiday: the Spanish steps, the Mouth of Truth, and the gladiator school that allows anyone aged six and up to don a burgundy tunic, enter a sand ring, and duel to the (faked) death with swords and shields.

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A team of historical re-enactors known as Gruppo Storico Romano, or the Historic Roman Group, runs the gladiator school and attached museum. Each member adopts an ancient alter ago: Sergio Iacomoni, the founder of the group, calls himself Nero after the emperor presiding over Rome when it burned in the Great Fire of 64 AD.

While employed at the Bank of Italy, Iacomoni and four co-workers cobbled together five gladiator costumes and tested them out by play fighting on a Sunday morning at the Colosseum. That was the beginning of Gruppo Storico Romano. In April 2014, the group celebrates its 20th anniversary.

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Photo: Fabiana Formica

If you'd like to experience the life of a gladiator, you can take a two-hour class, which includes a tour of the museum, sword fight training, an optional tournament, and a certificate of accomplishment. Or you could go a step further, as Fabiana Formica reports for Atlas Obscura:

For the more adventurous, the group also offers a live-in experience at the camp. But clients are warned, as a general rule, no anachronistic objects such as watches or phones are allowed on-site. That would upset the gods, for sure. The school has also recently launched a Spartacus-style evening show, including live gladiator fighting re-enactment, traditional dances, and a typical Roman meal served with honeyed wine. Finally, the group also specializes in re-enactment of rites such as the Roman funeral, the Ides of March, and the testament of Augustus.
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Photo: Gruppo Storico Romano

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Photo: Fabiana Formica

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Photo: Fabiana Formica

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Photo: Fabiana Formica

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.