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"Lovers, like bees, lead a life as sweet as honey": Houses at Pompeii Reopened to Visitors

The Great Pompeii Project, an EU project begun in 2014, has completed its restoration works in Regiones I, II, and III (Southeast part of the site). They also made some new discoveries in Regione V, including an amazingly well preserved fresco depicting gladiators fighting.

Most of the work, however, was devoted to structural interventions to improve safety and visitor experience, with work was carried out on 45 different buildings. Among this work, three houses have been restored and opened to the public, one of them for the first time in decades.

La Casa del Frutteto (The House of the Orchard)

Also known as the House of Euplia and the House of the Floral Cublicula, the home is on the smaller side compared to some of Pompeii's more well known houses, but is decorated with beautiful frescoes presenting some of the best examples of garden vistas found in Pompeii. One room has little painted vignettes of with Egyptianizing themes, set amongst the birds and foliage, likely indicative of the owner's affiliation with the cult of Isis, which was prominent at Pompeii.

You can find pictures of other rooms of this beautiful little house here:

La Casa della Nave Europa (The House of the Ship Europa)

this house has a long history, fist built in the 3rd century BC and was modified extensively over time. It has good examples of "First style" or "masonry" style decorations, especially in the room next to the entrance. The house is most famous for the large incised drawing/graffito carved on the north wall of the peristyle, depicting a large cargo ship labeled "Europa".

Drawing of a wall graffiti of a cargo ship, "Europa", from a house in Pompeii
Drawing of a wall graffiti of a cargo ship, "Europa", from a house in Pompeii

Casa degli Amanti (The House of the Lovers)

And finally, this one has been widely reported on in the media in the last few days. It was first excavated in 1933, and has been closed since the 1980s, following an earthquake.

It takes its name from a line of verse painted on a wall: Amantes, ut apes, vita(m) melita(m) exigunt ("Lovers, like bees, lead a life as sweet as honey"). The house is especially notable for the presence and preservation of a second story around the colonnaded garden, which was added in the 1st century AD. Visitors will be most dazzled by its wall paintings in the 4th style, featuring elegant landscape vistas.

According to the Italian Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Pompeii saw nearly 4 million visitors in 2019 alone, so plan your trip wisely if you don't want to be caught in the crowds!

- JN


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