Family Fight Club

Tiro (novice) or not, brandishing a sizeable arma lusoria (wooden sword) and aiming strategically at the stomach of his lanista (trainer), my 12-year-old son Theo cuts an impressive swath as a gladiator-in-training. Far more real than reading a textbook about life in classical Rome, taking a two-hour course in the rigors of gladiatorial combat was a brilliant way for an enthusiastic Latin student to get the most from a school-holiday visit to Rome.

Mercifully, there were some concessions to the 21st century. Our gladiatorial boot camp took place in a sumptuous private room at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton,...

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