Gladiators and police clash in Rome!

A visit to Rome's most recognizable monument, the Colosseum, typically involves an encounter with a kitchy gladiator who poses for your pictures (then asks you for money). For years, men in full gladiator and centurion battle gear, including helmets, swords, tunics and feathered helmets, have set up here, and elsewhere in the city, and have made a fairly decent living doing this, either to the delight or the annoyance of tourists.

A man dressed as an ancient Roman centurion shouts slogan during a protest in front of the Colosseum Thursday.Men who dress as ancient Roman centurions and ask for money to have picture taken by tourist at the Colosseum clashed with police on Thursday as authorities tried to enforce an eviction order.
photo credit: New York Post
However complaints about these faux gladiators -- which included charges of verbal harassment of tourists, sometimes to an aggressive degree, and pandering for money in exchange for photos or shabby tourist advice -- had reached such levels that city officials finally took notice, and took action.

The Buzz in Basilicata

The communal kitchen at Palazzo Margherita
photo credit: Palazzo Margherita 
The buzz around Basilicata right now is the recent grand opening of Francis Ford Coppola's stunning 9-room boutique property, Palazzo Margherita.   Mr. Coppola owns other hotels, but the fact that he’s chosen Basilicata—a region practically unknown, undiscovered, and most certainly not on many people’s bucket list –is quite remarkable given it's very off-the-beaten track location.  

One of the last truly unspoiled corners of Italy, bleak, barren, beautiful Basilicata will captivate your family. Here, you’ll find locals who are happy you're in town, uncrowded restaurants, crystal clear waters absolutely void of English-speaking tourists, colorful, local festivals, and hearty, peasant cuisine that is simple and sumptuous. 

With the opening of Coppola’s new hotel and the subsequent buzz it's generated in the travel press, bella Basilicata is on the verge of being discovered, and ready for its close up, Mr. Coppola.   

You just might want to visit it now, so you can have the bragging rights to say, 'you knew it when.' 

An easy day trip to Rome's ancient ruins

Pompeii tops the list of sights that many families want to see during a first-time trip Italy.  However, depending on your itinerary, it's sometimes a challenge to get there from other popular destinations in Italy, like Venice and Florence, both of which are also typically at the top the list of places families  want to see.

Unless you're planning to stay in or around the Amalfi Coast or Naples, Pompeii is simply too long of a day trip for most kids.

photo credit:

If an ancient Roman city is on your bucket list, then I typically recommend a visit to Ostia Antica, which is easier to get to. Ostia was ancient Rome's seaport, and it's just a short 30 minute train ride from the city center. 

So why don't more families choose to visit?  Today's blog post, Ostia with Kids, from Context Travel's founder Paul Bennett, will perhaps help provide the right amount of inspiration.