From the Times:

A €10 million (£8 million) "virtual reality" show featuring 3D gladiators and wild animals is to open this month next to the Colosseum in what Gianni Alemanno, the centre-right Mayor of Rome, described as a "dress rehearsal" for a Disney-style Ancient Rome theme park.

The show, Rewind Rome, is housed in the Teatro Colosseo, a disused theatre. It opens its doors on November 20 with an "experience" designed to transport visitors to 4th-century Rome in groups of 70 at a time, at a cost of €10 per head.

Visitors are given an audio guide in eight languages. They then walk down a frescoed corridor into a mock-up of the Colosseum arena, where using 3D goggles they watch a gladiator contest while tigers appear to spring at them.

Alberto Francescani, the creator of Rewind Rome, said that it was an "authentic reconstruction of Imperial Rome combining archeological research with up-to-date technology". He said that it would be popular above all with "families and children".

The show is set in the Colosseum at the time of the Emperor Maxentius, who features in it. Maxentius was defeated in 312 at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge by his rival Constantine, who later converted the Roman Empire to Christianity and established its eastern capital at Constantinople (now Istanbul).

The show is narrated by Carlo Verdone, the actor and film director, who said he hoped that it would be "not only entertaining but instructive". He said that it would give visitors an impression of "daily street life in ancient Rome", including not only gladiators, vestal virgins and disputes in the Senate but also graffiti on the walls, "which shows some things have not changed".

In August Mauro Cutrufo, Mr Alemanno's deputy, announced plans to build a "family friendly" Ancient Rome theme park on a 500 hectare site just outside the city, which he said could be up and running "within three to four years".

He said that the model would be Disneyland Paris. The project was opposed by the centre Left, which said that it amounted to the Americanisation of Ancient Rome. However the Roman traders' association, said that it would revive tourism to Rome, which had fallen in 2008 because of the global credit crunch.

Instead of Pirates of the Caribbean, visitors will be offered rides through a replica of the Colosseum. Unlike Rewind Rome however, the theme park is intended to show life under both the Roman Republic — ending with the murder of Julius Caesar and civil war — and the Roman Empire that followed.

Mr Cutrufo said that he was looking for private investment in the theme park, and calculated that it would bring an extra three million people a year to the Eternal City.