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Restoration works of the 'House of the Chaste Lovers' to start in Pompeii

It is the most emblematic site of Pompeii, but also the most overlooked. The 'House of the Chaste Lovers', an upper-class residence named after a small fresco painted on the back wall of a ‘triclinium’, the dining room of a large house on Via dell Abbondanza, depicting a couple in gentle embrace.

Restoration works of the 'House of the Chaste Lovers' to start in Pompeii
The scene on the north wall is of the 'chaste lovers' after which the domus was named 
[Credit: Riccardo Siano/Repubblica]
The property was of mixed use, consisting of a bakery and its attached residential quarters.

The well-preserved residence was discovered by an Italian team in 1987 and has been painstakingly excavated over the last two decades.

The domus has never before been open to the public, except for 8 months in 2010, and then only to specialists by special invitation.

Wandering through the rooms and along the walkways built in 2010 in a forest of pipes and scaffolding supporting the roof, one has the impression that the eruption has just happened.

Even the untrained eye can discern here the signs of the destructive fury of Vesuvius that in 79 AD buried the city, along with Herculaneum and Stabiae.

Here an entire wall, three metres long, and still retaining the grate of the window, collapsed onto a layer of tephra.

It was knocked down by the force of the pyroclastic surge, the fine ash flow mixed with other volcanic debris that tumbled from Vesuvius to the plain like an avalanche on the dawn of August 25, 79 AD, when hot clouds obliterated all life in the city, making the air unbreathable and instantly incinerated both humans and animals.

That volcanic debris, mixed with the remains of tiles and pieces of masonry is easily discernable in the sequence of the buried layers revealed by the excavations.

The skeletons of six donkeys and a mule have also been found here in what was once a stable. The animals were used to turn the four millstones of the bakery and also to distribute the bread in and out of town.

The complex includes the House and Bakery of the Chaste Lovers, the House of the First Cenaculum (Casa del Primo Cenacolo colonnato), the House of the Second Cenaculum, two shops and the House of the Painters at Work (Casa dei Pittori al Lavoro).

In the latter domus, damaged by an earthquake in 62 AD, in the great hall, the ‘oecus’, a team of painters worked during the days just before the eruption. Painter's pots and brushes were found in the room and several of the central panels bear only the sketched outlines of the proposed decorative scene to be painted there.

[Photo Credit: Riccardo Siano/Repubblica]

It’s a journey back in time, until now reserved only to specialists, and that's why the Superintendence has decided to intervene via The Great Pompeii Project.

The project of restoration is ready, the public tender of 10 million euros will be held in March and the reopening is scheduled for 2020.

The Minister Franceschini and EU Commissioner Corina Cretu will visit the ‘domus’ on Thursday 9th February and the 'House of the Chaste Lovers' will then be open to visitors from 11 to 14 February to celebrate Valentine's Day, then the restoration works will start.

Source: La Repubblica [February 04, 2017]

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