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Gladiators for kids
Greet the Gladiators! )
 Kids Europe Newsletter March 2005 
in this issue
Greetings,

Imagine yourself living in ancient Rome and, instead of going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon, you go to the colosseum for a gladiator battle. Movies can be exciting, but imagine a fight to the death right there in front of you! Some gladiators survived for many battles and became heroes. They were like today's sports or wrestling stars with a whole different pay system -- instead of money, they might evenutally live to become free.

The movies mentioned in this newsletter feature violent combat and violence towards slaves. My husband and teenaged boys love them, but they may not be for all families.

 

Freely forward this Discover Italy Newsletter in its entirety. At the very bottom of the newsletter you will find a forward link to make it easy. (c) Copyright Kids Europe LLC.

Watch Gladiator

For some children, the Coliseum in Rome and the Roman ruins all over the city are just dusty old piles of rocks. In fact, they are just old rocks, unless one has some sense of their age and the exciting times when they were erected. So, we suggest helping kids get a sense of those times by reading and watching movies that have the Roman Empire as a theme. They may not get a full understanding of the history of Rome, but they will be better prepared to exercise their imaginations in enjoying some Roman ruins.

Rent or buy the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe. This will give you some sense of life in the Roman army and life as a gladiator. A man from the province of Spain (Spain was part of the Roman Empire) becomes an honored general under the great emperor Marcus Aurelius. He gets in trouble with Marcus Aurelius' son and ends up a slave, then a gladiator. The movie is full of action, rather bloody in places.

Learn about what was historically correct and what wasn't by reading this short article. The movie made lots of changes to history to fit into a short time frame and to make things sometimes more convenient or dramatic. If you read the internet article, you will discover that the true story was as dramatic as the movie, so why did they change it?

Now, host your own family Roman entertainment! Dress up in togas (sheets are perfect) and eat your dinner reclining while watching your Gladiator movie.

Gladiator...

Classic Movies about Classic Rome
Now, watch a classic: Spartacus! The tale is about the legendary, but real, leader of a slave revolt. And the movie is a classic in every sense, an early (1960) Stanley Kubric film. it stars Kirk Douglas, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis.

What about the latest Spartacus movie? My resident 15 year-old movie critic watched it and says it is not informative or educational and doesn't take place in Rome at all.

Yet another classic movie is Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston. You'll never forget the chariot race scene. We have a family story about a daring cousin imitating Charlton Heston with one foot on a mule and the other on a horse...very exciting for the moment it lasted.

Interesting Gladiator information on the Internet

Where to Stay in Rome
My son and I went to Rome over February vacation on a mission to find some more great apartments for Excellent Europe, our vacation rental business. We walked all over Rome, looked at a dozen places, stayed in three, and selected those that we can personally recommend. You will find them on our website; I welcome your questions and interest.

Via Veneto is the clever name we gave to a one bedroom apartment right off the famous Via Veneto. It sleeps four using the sofa bed and has all the amenities including air conditioning and a DVD player if you just need a quiet evening at "home."

In the Spanish Steps area we enjoyed staying in the Corso Apartments, two adjoining two-bedroom apartments (great for an extended family) right on the Via del Corso, equidistant from the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. They are right next to a beautiful basilica into which I tempted my son by promising him that he could see the heart of Saint Carlo that is enshrined therein.

I really appreciated the apartments at the Janus, a suites hotel in a little village inside the walls of Rome. The area is replete with minor ancient Roman monuments that are very easy to appreciate, while being a short walk from the Coliseum and thousands of other sights. My son was interested in the nearby Bocca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth, that, according to legend, will bite off your hand if you tell a lie while your hand is inserted in it. I could go on, but if you are interested, take a look at the write ups on my website or contact me for more information.

Janus Apartments in Ancient Rome

Fun Books About Gladiators
There is a gladiator book or two for everyone.

Join the Time Warp Trio in Roman times while they find themselves among the gladiators where even their goofy jokes don't always get them out of sticky situations. See You Later, Gladiator

Secret Worlds: Gladiators This DK book appeals very much to today's kids, with "Weird World" fact boxes, many color illustrations, and web site addresses.

Gladiator is amply illustrated and appeals to children and adult aficionados of Roman Gladiators.

Emperors and Gladiators is detailed and amusing; you'll gain lots of information about gladiators.

If a young person wants to learn about the building, construction and use of the Colosseum, this is the book: The Roman Colosseum (Wonders of the World)

Travel Tips
The line to get into the Coliseum in Rome can wrap around the monument...hours of waiting. Get your tickets ahead of time and go to the head of the line. Ask the concierge at your hotel to help you get the tickets. I have found a company that will order the tickets for you. You can call or order over the Internet at Cultural Italy. For most attractions, they will obtain a reservation number for you that you will be able to present at the ticket window, avoiding the lines.

Kids love different modes of transportation, so be sure to try as many as you can. Railroads in Italy are very well organized, fun for the kids, and are the very best way to travel from one city to the next. Driving through the center of Rome, Milan, Florence and any other large Italian city is more than a challenge, and it can certainly ruin your day. Furthermore, parking is scarce once (if) you find your central destination. So, take the train. Save time while traveling by getting your tickets ahead of time with Rail Europe. I've tried this and was delighted by how well it worked.

Rail Europe

Italy Discovery Journal
Make your own travel guide and journal by ordering the Italy Discovery Journal eBook. Or you can order it printed and assembled by us. It contains more than 500 ideas for enjoying a trip to Italy. Goofy history, strange places, and ideas on how to appreciate the Italian life around you.

I have just begun to subscribe to a wonderful newsletter about traveling in Italy Dream of Italy written by Kathleen McCabe, a professional journalist. I look forward to every issue and a great feature of a subscription is access to all her past issues online. In any case, the admiration is mutual and Kathy recently interviewed me and published an article about the Italy Discovery Journal, stating "There's a fantastic new resource for keeping the kids educated and entertained while visting Italy, without overwhelming them."

We hand collate and bind our books and, I'll say, that article kept us busy several evenings filling orders. Thanks, Kathy!

Find out more about the Italy Discovery Journal...

Word Origins: Arena
These days, the word arena means an enclosed area for the presentation of sports events and spectacles. It comes from the Latin word "arena" which means sand. Arenas like the Roman Coliseum had a surface of sand that would not get slippery even when blood flowed. So, eventually, it came to mean the area within the coliseum or stadium where the sports and games take place.

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