Gladiator School, Rome

We are back from a fantastic weekend in the beautiful city of Roma! We left on Friday morning which just happened to be Max’s 12th birthday and figured the boys wouldn’t mind an extra day off school. After singing “Happy Birthday” to Max we caught an early, high-speed train down to Rome with our dear friends, E, Ross and the girls. Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday if you ask me: good friends, Roman food and lots of fun. I’m not sure we will be able to top this year!

Happy 12th Birthday Maxi

Happy 12th Birthday Maxi

It was glorious, the sun stayed high in the sky all weekend and we were strolling the streets in t-shirts and jeans, we couldn’t have planned for better weather. It goes without saying we walked a lot, ate a lot and laughed a lot; however, what I really want to tell you about is the  Gladiator school.

I watched a video of it on the internet a few months back and it looked pretty cool, however, it seemed expensive. In hindsight I was completely wrong and it was really worth every euro! The boys and their friends were very hyped-up about their Saturday morning class (you really need to book in advance as it sells out) and feeling a little nervous as we headed out to the school to see what they were in for. I was blown away by the two-hour class. OMG! The gladiator teaching the kids was a scary looking guy with muscles as big as my head and thighs that could crush you in one sitting, not to mention the chest on this guy! We were all a bit stunned when we first saw him and the kids a little more nervous.

Alex feeling what it is like to be a Roman soilder

Alex feeling what it is like to be a Roman solider

It wasn’t until he opened his mouth and started talking that we all began to relax and enjoy the show. From start to finish he was an entertainer, inviting the kids to join in, listen, learn and experience all things Roman and gladiatorial. It started with a tour around the museum room where he explained all the military equipment used back in Roman times (the kids loved this). He then moved on to explain the history of the equipment used by gladiators, who became gladiators and the levels of different gladiators…I didn’t realise women were gladiators, however, we were told only the ugly ones! We were mesmerised by his knowledge, appearance and general enthusiastic approach to the class.

When it was time to go outside for the ‘practical’ lesson things only got better. In fact the boys had so much fun Alex came home saying “That was probably the best day of my life”. They were glowing from this experience and Max actually made a trailer of their time at Gladiator School which is better than me rambling on, check it out…

If you are heading to Rome anytime in the near future I urge you to check this place out. Gladiator School is for all age groups: I wished that I had booked a spot for myself when I saw how much fun the kids were having!

Food from Rome

I could not end the notes on Rome without taking a little extra time to talk about a couple of places we loved to eat at…..that wouldn’t be right.

We must of walked past this small trattoria on our street at least 4 times a day and every morning you couldn’t help notice the menu changing daily, or perhaps it was their ‘specials’ menu? Whichever one it was, it was the only restaurant that did this AND one of the only ones that didn’t have a display of its wares out front, searing and wilting in the intense summer heat; for us this was a big incentive to wander in.

We had just had a big morning of walking through the ruins and needed a delicious meal to recoup our energy. 

The trattoria wasn’t jumping with customers, yet the servers were warm, friendly and attentive in a relaxing mannor. Two very large beers and iced teas where ordered before anything else- but of course!

We all decided on pasta dishes for lunch, however, as delicious as they were I did not take photos as they didn’t look impressive and staged on a plate, they were simply perfect pastas with delicious pesto. What did look impressive to me however where the marinated vegetables we passed on our way through the restaurant and when I saw vegetable antipasti on the ‘specials’ menu I knew we just had to try it.



The flavours jumped off the plate and Nic and I didn’t hold back. I won’t lie to you and say the boys dug in as well, that would be too much of a stretch! While Nic and I polished the marinated eggplant, zucchini and spinach off they picked over the potatoes and olives- Happy Days.


I am saving the best to last however. Nic, Alex and I fought spoons over this tiramisu because it was TO DIE FOR!!! And we were all relishing in the fact that Max hates cream (don’t feel sorry for him, you know he got some gelato later on!)

Our second favourite lunch spot was this baguetteria that we happened to stumble across in the back streets one morning while we were searching for our morning coffee. (This is a beautiful time; the streets were quiet, the air was fresh and cool and the kids stayed home playing while we popped out for ten minutes of peace. I recommend this to all parent travelling with kids!)


It has a wall of 150 beers from around the globe and a glass deli counter with every filling you could possible want when it comes to paring vegetables with deli meats and cheeses


Once we drooled over this selection we then chose our preferred meat, followed by the cheese selection and then of course the terrible decision of what beer to choose? 

What’s that I hear? A hard life? I know, but I’m happy to put myself out there every once and a while…


We ate inside with a German (or they could have been Danish?) couple while a group of teenagers chilled out on the outside seating. I just love places like this, they are the reason I love travelling and getting lost in the streets of towns I barely know….I just hope word doesn’t get out too much otherwise it might be standing room only.


Our Roman Holiday

It has felt like an eternity since I was able to sit down at my computer and see what the rest of the world is up to. Since we arrived in Florence just over a week ago we have had no internet connection until about 5 minutes ago!!!

Please enjoy my quick rendition of our family holiday in Rome before I bombard you with the day to day working of life in Firenze…. and just so you know, it feels so, so good to be here, life IS good x

Buon giorno!

It feels like an age since I last posted, but as I look back at the calendar and see our Roman holiday has been and gone in just over a week, and before that we packed up our lives and moved to the other side of the world- a wee break from blogging seems appropriate don’t you think?


The flight over was comfortable though hideously long, however, it had to be done. Alex managed 6 hours sleep out of the 18 hours of flying time, which isn’t too bad at all. Max on the other hand is extremely stubborn and only allowed himself 2 hours for the whole flight!! To say he was a bit of a mess 24 hours later would be an understatement.


With flights out of the way and the intense summer heat piercing our white winter bodies we set off into the streets of Rome to blow the boys minds. We stayed in the heart of the centro storico which is close to a lot of Rome you really want to see. This is a first for me as I am usually in a run-down pensione up by the station, so to have a little apartment in the heart of Rome was a dream come true.  As promised, gelato was high on the boys’ list of things to ‘do and see’ and we ticked that off the list in the first hours of arrivingImage

 After a wonderful night’s sleep (and really enjoying stretching out) we started the day with sight seeing, pastries and a little walking…actually a lot of walking. The complaints were minimal as the boys were both eager and wanting to see more of the city. Image

Stopping for lunch was most welcome and with a trusting look at the ‘Lonely Planet Guide’ we found a wonderful restaurant out of the tourist trap with fantastic pizza and icy cold beers.

For dinner we decided to make a yummy salad at home as the ingredients were so cheap compared to Sydney food prices, plus I was dying to eat fresh tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella!

I would love to tell you the evening was an affair of laughter, fun and a bottle of wine, however, it was not to be. I added some deli tuna to our tomato and mozzarella salad for an extra boost and soon discovered it did not agree with me. For whatever reason I seemed to have an allergic reaction to the fish and ended up with a beetroot red body, heart palpitations, headaches, vomiting and welts!!


Woohooo, oh what a night!


Nic only managed welts, redness on part of his body and a headache, however, woke up feeling fine the next morning. I on the other hand wasn’t so fine and the worst thing of all it was Alex’s 8th birthday!!


 Thankfully by morning the heart palpitations were gone and the headaches were controlled by panadol so I wasn’t a complete mess. Alex woke up to a few presents sitting on the table; so bursting with excitement he ripped into them and thus began a wonderful day for him. He put on a nice shirt, put gel in his hair and greeted the day with enthusiasm as any 8 year old would on their birthday!


Pastries we polished off in the morning and delicious panini were eaten for lunch while standing it a thunderstorm (a welcoming relief from the intense heat). By the afternoon all I could think about was bed so Nic took the boys to a ‘time elevator’ where they learnt about Rome in 5D and then ate more gelato!


 Ice cream cake was Alex’s birthday request so we popped into the corner shop, found a Vienetta, whipped off the wrapping then Alex proceeded to ‘dress it up’ with beautiful sweet local strawberries (thank goodness). A wonderful birthday was had, he was totally excited with his very own ice cream cake, eating two slices while watching Transformers on dvd and I was even happier to wake up the next morning feeling 100% better.


It was time to get on with our holiday!