The pearl of Pompeii. A Roman house full of mythological frescoes, sculptures “in bronze and marble, of exceptional artistic quality,” says Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, “which speak to the complex relationship between Greek models and Roman reworkings, but also the economy and society of the city.”
This is the House of the Vettii, which, after 20 years of closure, has now reopened its doors to visitors to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, 44 hectares of history that are a continuous source of fascination and amazement for numerous visitors from all over the world.
After 20 years of closure, the House of the Vettii has now reopened its doors to visitors to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii
Immediately after the Christmas holidays, on 10 January, this iconic location, part of the UNESCO site in Campania, held its official opening attended by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano and the Director General of the Museums, Massimo Osanna. There had been a partial reopening in 2016, though limited only to the entrance of the atrium and the surrounding rooms.
Now the whole villa, which was excavated at the end of the 1800s, is open to the public. It takes its name from the freedmen Aulus Vettius Restitutus and Aulus Vettius Conviva, former slaves who embarked on a successful business exporting wine, a product linked to the trade history and economic fortune of Pompeii.
Restoration work began in 2016, led by Massimo Osanna, in order to render the complex architectural building and grounds accessible to visitors. The work involved the collaboration of a team of archaeologists, architects, restorers, engineers, structural engineers and gardening experts.
What makes this residence unique is the garden, which had a complex system of water pipes and small fountains (now restored using copies of the original statues, which are instead conserved in the exhibition spaces and in the storage of the Archaeological Park) in particular a statue of Priapus, god of abundance. The house also features wonderful frescoes that decorate the walls in the Fourth Style.
Visitors entering the vestibule are welcomed by the astonishingly beautiful painting, again of Priapus, with his enormous member representing the prosperity and wealth of those who lived in the house. There are also stunning scenes of 'cupids' located in the oecus (lounge).
Visitors entering the vestibule are welcomed by the astonishingly beautiful painting, again of Priapus, with his enormous member
A frieze painted above the plinth in which the winged figures are immortalized intent on the most diverse activities and trades: florists and crown sellers, manufacturers and traders of perfumes, goldsmiths and engravers, launderers, bakers and grape harvesters, where the latter act as prelude to the triumph of Dionysus.
And finally, the room adjacent to the lararium, with its erotic paintings, where it is assumed that the prostitute Eutychis offered herself, as can be read in the graffiti at the entrance to the house. The wealth of the owners is also revealed by the large safes, two of which were located in the atrium as the custom of the time required, precisely to demonstrate the financial status of the residents to anyone who entered.
As well as the sumptuous paintings and sculptures that reflected local tradition – in an area where wine was produced for export throughout the Mediterranean – and social mobility, which allowed two former slaves to rise to the highest levels of society.
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