30 Dicembre 2015
Naples, December 30 - Over 7,000 people visited six newly opened 'domus' (residences) in Pompeii on Sunday and over 5,000 in the morning alone of Monday. Lines are everywhere at the archaeological site in this holiday period, with crowds at the Via dell'Abbondanza, where the six newly restored domus were inaugurated on Christmas Eve by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. "There have been a great number of visitors but we haven't had any problems. The tourism was incredibly civilized and orderly," ANSA was told by superintendent Massimo Osanna. There are crowds everywhere but especially in the Fullonica di Stephanus, an ancient laundry and fabric-dying workshop. Osanna said that the most popular domus instead seems to be that of Paquius Proculus, with electoral writings on its walls and colorful floors. It is here, due to the delicacy of the restored mosaics, that visitors must follow a sort of guided tour on mats and the entrance is tightly controlled to prevent excessive crowding. The superintendent also praised the success thus far of two guided tours organized alongside the regional culture institute SCABEC. The first ('Di Domus in Domus') focuses on the domus and the second ('Memorie e Suggestioni') on the amphitheater and an exhibition of casts set up in a large pyramid designed by Francesco Venezia. Restored with about 3 million euros from the Grande Progetto Pompei, the six new residences, the superintendent said, have been reopened together "because as a group they offer an extraordinary view of what must have been life in the Roman city in the years immediately before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD buried them in its ash." In this way, places showing the life of the wealthy and privileged are seen, such as the owner of the Domus dell'Efebo must have been, who immediately after the earthquake that hit the city in 63 AD bought and restored several homes next to each other, making it into a sort of urban villa for his family. There are also simpler homes of average people, such as those of Fabius Amandio or Sacerdos Amandus, both small with fewer rooms than the others but decorated with some refinement. There is also the Criptoportico domus, which - Osanna said - "must have been very prestigious in the age of Augustus, with rooms decorated with very high quality paintings of scenes from the Iliad and thermal baths", but after the earthquake of 63 AD, it was likely sold and renovated, with what remained of the cryptoporticus closed and turned into cellar. The visit to the Fullonica is especially interesting. It came to light in excavations between 1912 and 1914 led by Vittorio Spinazzola, one of the most important laundries and fabric-dying workshops discovered in Pompeii. It had large basins for rinsing fed by constant water flow and stone ones for dying, washing and getting rid of stains through the use of specific types of mud or with urine. On the upper level there were large terraces where the textiles were dried and a 'torcular' was used to iron them. Bearing witness to the prestige of its owner are the tasteful wall paintings. Stephanus, Osanna said, was undoubtedly an important man, since "in a pre-industrial society like Pompeii, a dying workshop was important and the 'fullones' like himself could influence political elections." The visit is 'a must', as is one to the home of Proculo the baker, a rich and influential man (his portrait alongside his wife is one of the icons of the Campania site and is exhibited in Naples at the National Archaeological Museum) whose home has a spectacular mosaic flooring and a sitting room and a peristyle with Nile-like paintings on their walls in a nod to the 'Egyptomania' in vogue in those years in the Roman world.
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