Virtual Rome: Gladiator fights return to the Colosseum

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Vestal Virgins, bloodthirsty gladiators grappling with tigers and a portly toga-wearing guide are the highlights of a new high-tech attraction which aims to bring Ancient Rome to life.

"3D Rewind Rome" opens this month in the Italian capital within sight of the Colosseum, the scene of fights to the death between gladiators, slaves and wild animals.

It blends video-game technology with Hollywood animation to recreate life in the temples, tribunals and market places of the ancient city in 310AD, during the reign of Emperor Maxentius.

Gladiatorial scenes, graffiti-covered walls and dusty streets crowded with 60,000 virtual characters aim to give visitors a taste of what life was like in "Caput Mundi" – the centre of the ancient world.

"Now all of Rome is at your feet," says Sapientus, the chubby, balding 3D guide to a detailed virtual model of the city, developed by archaeologists, architects, historians and digital designers.

Tourists will be able to watch a rowdy Senate debate, see the plebeian goings-on of the working-class district of Suburra and get a glimpse into the hallowed sanctuary of the Vestal Virgins...

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