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Pompeii: six must-visit treasures

Published in Pompeii
09 March 2016

The six Domus unveiled to the public after four years of restoration are real archaeological gems. The restorations were carried out under the 3-million euro Great Pompeii project. Re-opened on 23 December 2015, they offer a detailed picture of life during the Early Roman Empire before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. buried the town and its unsuspecting inhabitants in hot rock and volcanic ash.

Visitors to the residences will discover rooms that tell them about the lives of the wealthiest, most privileged members of the town including the owner of the House of Ephebus who, following the earthquake that destroyed Pompeii in 63 A.D., bought and restored several adjoining houses, in order to build a sort of townhouse for his family. The newly restored ruins also include simpler residences, the homes of ordinary people, such as those owned by Fabius Amandius or Sacerdos Amandus  whose rooms, though smaller and more modest, are also beautifully decorated. Another highlight is the Criptoporticus Domus, featuring rooms decorated with scenes from the Iliad and several magnificent paintings, which, following the earthquake of 63, was probably sold and restructured. Additionally, the remains of the cryptoporticus were closed and converted into a cellar.

Also worthy of note is a visit to the Fullonica, or public laundry, which was brought to light during excavation works between 1912 and 1914. It is one of the most important and complete dry cleaning establishments in the area where the fabrics unearthed in Pompeii were washed and treated. The laundry facility had large stone tubs that were used for rinsing, fed by an uninterrupted flow of water, stone basins for dyeing, washing and stain removal (carried out using special types of clay or urine). The upper floor house large terraces where the fabrics were dried and treated with an ironing press to make them shinier. Its rooms were decorated with stylish paintings testifying to the wealth and prestige of its owner. 

An absolute must is a visit to the house of Proculus, the baker, a rich, influential man whose portrait, depicting himself and his wife, considered one of the icons of Pompeii, is currently preserved at the Naples National Archaeological Museum.  Proculus’s house features mosaic flooring, a sitting room and a peristyle whose walls are painted with Egyptian motifs, an art form that was fashionable in Roman times. It has three floors and a simple, austere façade, enhanced, on the first floor, by a balcony. Other highlights include an atrium with a beautiful floor, one of the largest and best-preserved in Pompeii, featuring the famous mosaic of a chained dog. According to statistics, at present, this is the Domus most frequently visited by tourists who on account of its recently restored mosaics are asked to follow a special path covered with mats. Furthermore, the influx of visitors to this Domus is carefully monitored at its entrance to prevent overcrowding.

The two guided tours offered by the archaeological site in collaboration with Scabec, Società Campana Beni Culturali, are also proving to be a big hit with tourists: the first, ‘Di domus in domus’ is dedicated to the newly restored dwellings of Pompeii, while the second, ‘Memorie e suggestioni’ offers a tour of the amphitheatre and a visit to the exhibition of the plaster casts of deceased inhabitants mounted in the large pyramid designed by Francesco Venezia.

Places that still amaze all those who visit them, almost two thousand years after they were originally built.

Infopoint: T. 0818575347 www.pompeiisites.org -  

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