In the last decades, only a few studies have been focused on the Greek gymnasia in the ancient West; this is caused by a paucity of archaeological evidence. The main goal of this paper is to fill this gap, by offering an historical overview on the Greek gymnasia in the study area, through a new critical analysis and a correlation of epigraphic, literary, numismatic and archaeological sources. The contribution has been divided into two sections. Special attention will be given to the presence of the gymnasia within the western Greek poleis in Magna Grecia and Sicily. Firstly, we will reflect on some criteria that must be adopted in order to exactly define the features of the gymnasia, not just by examining forms and building typologies but also the possible reference models. A new chronological distribution map, showing also the different degrees of reliability of the common identifications, will be provided. The foundation of the gymnasia in non-Greek cities of pre-Roman and Roman Italy will form the basis of the second section. Once again, the known case-studies will be critically analyzed, and the political and cultural reasons for the adoption of this important institution, typical of the Greek society, among non-Greek
populations will be investigated in detail in order to highlight, where possible, the different reception of this peculiar institution.