Pompeian snack bar opens Sunday
2,000-year-old shop offers visitors taste of past18 March, 18:47
Prior to the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, the thermopolium opened directly on to a main street, the Via dell'Abbondanza. One of the best preserved sites in Pompeii, it has been closed to the public for years in order to protect it from damage. But months of detailed excavation and preservation work have now finished and all visitors will soon be able to enter the thermopolium and get an idea of what a typical Ancient Roman snack-bar was like. Inside, visitors are greeted with a typical, decorated counter, just as in modern cafes and bars, where customers stood to enjoy a quick lunch. Cylindrical holes in the bar once contained glass dolia, or jars, which were used to hold food. However, archaeologists working at this site also discovered a large quantity of coins in one of these.
They believe the owner left them there in a last-ditch attempt to save his wealth as he fled the city, presumably hoping he might one day return. The thermopolium also boasted a triclinium (dining area) with couches, for those of its customers who wanted to eat in the reclining Greek style.
This is decorated with a beautiful painting showing the Rape of Europa with Jupiter as a bull. An internal garden, viridarium, included an outdoor triclinium, which excavations have revealed was once shaded by a grapevine pergola and featured flowerbeds growing herbs used in the kitchen. Premises adjoining the snack bar were the home of the owner and his family.
The Larario, or household shrine, is decorated with beautiful Corinthian columns. Wall paintings depict the household gods and personal companion spirit, or 'genius', carrying out a sacrifice at an altar. Mercury, god of trade, and Dionysius, god of wine, appear to the sides with protective snake divinities painted overhead, slithering towards a central altar. The thermopolium will shortly open permanently to all visitors but 300 names selected at random will be given the chance for an advance taste this Sunday. Those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm on Friday March 19 for a chance to be included on the list.