The Italian Almanac

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Centurions and Gladiators

Rome's costumed gladiators and centurions are about to be chased away from the Colosseum, the city announced. "Because they're illegal," said councilor for commerce Davide Bordoni. The city is launching a task force to keep the impersonators in leather tunics and armour from asking money from tourists for posing for pictures. The crackdown was ordered by Archeology Superintendent Maria Rosa Barbera, who also ordered licensed vendors to distance themselves from the monument during the Easter season.

The centurions and gladiators are still allowed to work elsewhere in Rome such as along the road leading up to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain or in the Renaissance Piazza Navona where they are a mainstay. While the performers say they only ask for small donations, police say they can take home as much as 200 euros per day, income for which they allegedly never pay taxes.

Over the years, the city has gone back and forth on enforcing its policy against the fake warriors. In 2003, 25 performers protested for months and even scaled the Colosseum when the city refused to authorize work permits in the area.