Once were warriors

So we were back in Rome today with the ship docking in the closest port which is still a 1.5 hour bus ride away. The roads were blissfully empty though so we made good time. I had to book the bus transfer once I got on board the boat as it hadn’t really clicked in my mind as to how far the port was from Rome, and the limited / expensive modes of transport that can get you to and from. However that also meant that we only had five hours in Rome, so I had to cut the Colosseum tour as we wouldn’t have made the return bus, let alone perhaps even the boat itself, which is a huge shame. I curse myself for not paying greater attention to the details!

The bus dropped us in Vatican City just near St Peter’s Square where I saw the biggest crowds yet. Thousands of people lining up for about a kilometre to get in. Mind blowing for a non believer. We took a few quick snaps of the square, which for me resonates the most with the Dan Brown book-turned movie (was it Angels and Demons?) and we made an exit.

Encountered my first unfriendly Italian with the taxi driver who took us to the gladiator school. He was fanatical about Hardy not putting his shoes on the seat. Mate, look at the length of his legs, it’s almost impossible not to! Then we encountered our second rude Italian, the lady running the school. She was very unimpressed that we turned up when the minimum age was 6. How dare we! But she let us through, saying it was at our own risk and blah blah blah. Jesus lady it’s a pretend Gladiator school, calm your farm.

We had two hilarious Roman soldiers “buy us” as slaves and walk us through all the old weaponary. The Romans were incredibly creative with their death machines and devices so it’s no wonder they were one of the largest empires on the planet. They would even adapt their enemies’ weaponary to continue to dominate.

Anyone who was not a Roman was a barbarian. We were given tunics and a rope belt to wear, and were put through our paces. Like, actually we were. We had to do 5 loops of this exercise yard – squats under a rope, jumping over a rope, dodging swinging sacks of rice, tiny steps through a ladder, and then a somersault or five push ups. I immediately regretted not wearing a sports bra but enjoyed burning up a sweat as by now my muscles have surely atrophied. Sorry I don’t think the video below is working, not sure why 🤷🏻‍♀️

We were then given practice wooden swords and taught various moves that targeted the head, neck, legs and stomach. We were then taught the opposing defensive moves. By this point a family of American kids were driving everyone wild with their dumb comments, sarcasm, and inability to listen as well as saying “what?” when they didn’t hear. And for those who know me well, nothing grates me more than rude children who say what. So I was a bit smug and glad when two of the three got hurt. Heh heh heh. So petty. When the two sisters then went head to head in the “battle” I was really hoping for blood. But alas, just a few soft hits with the foam bat. I tried to add fuel to the fire by yelling “this gets you bragging rights forever!!”

Hardy and I then had our turn. He was quite good with his use of the shield but found it hard to hold the sword up. I smelt blood and went in for the kill, swiftly knocking his sword away and stabbing him dramatically.


I let him get me twice in the leg and then died a dramatic death from a massive stomach wound. He got to smash the brass bell/plate thing in victory. Hurrah!

The kids taking on the trainer. Sorry I don’t think this video is working either?!

We then shared a taxi with a Russian guy and his son (can’t confirm their nationality), but they wanted to get out earlier so he payed the bill up until then so my bill only ended up to be 4 euro which was sweet as, as I didn’t have much cash. I then got my first ‘ciao bella’ with a wink and suggestive smile from th driver. But i think getting attention from a man in Italy is not something to write home about (but here I am writing home about it).

On that note, one of the cruise staff has a crush on me I think. Always so enthusiastic with smiling and waving “HI KAT-ERINE” (my pass has my full name on it). Today he said he missed me at lunch because we weren’t on board. I’m not sure what to do because he’s 200% not my type BUT he’s the wine guy in the restaurant..so I can’t be rude..but if I’m nice enough I could get cheaper wine?? But shouldn’t be too nice.. Ethical dilemma!

Anyway I digress. So after gladiator school I opted to head back to Palazzo Navona which I found really stunning last time we were there. We picked a sweet restaurant right on the square. It was pretty expensive but I decided to treat ourselves after only eating buffet food for a while now. It was a lovely way to wind down and get out of the heat – it was 37 today apparently. Again the video probably isn’t working sorrryyyy.

We decided to kill more time by jumping on the open air bus again. Ha ha ha. Classic Katie move this one. Jumping on the one going in the WRONG direction, so we ended up driving further away from our meeting point with the cruise bus. Cue stressing. I’m looking at my map, watching us move further away. Calculating that the full loop will take too long, more stressing. So we lasted about 10 minutes before I threw in the towel and hailed us a taxi to take us back to Vatican City. Better to be safe than sorry right! So much wasted money!!! Help!

Hardy passed out almost immediately on the bus, so now he’s pumped and ready for kids club. He was TERRIBLY disappointed when I turned up last time, no joke, because he had his face painted as a tiger and apparently all the kids were painted as different animals and were going to perform a circus, so by me turning up he was going to miss out. WORST MUM EVER. So I said “how long do you want to stay this time? Last time you were there for an hour.” His reply: “I want to stay longer so I can be in the circus. So umm maybe 10 minutes. Or 13. Thirteen is a lot.”

Ok kid, see you in 13 minutes.



  1. Hardy will remember the Gladiator School forever – even if he was two years too young.
    Enjoy your Positano trip today. They have some lovely gift shops there, so it’s just as well you evacuated your suitcase.

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