In Pompeii, a Rare Chance to See the Roman Kiss for Valentine’s Day

Catch a glimpse of 'The Kiss' fresco before it closes for restoration.

Roman fresco with banquet scene from the Casa dei Casti Amanti (IX 12, 6-8). Photo Wolfgang Rieger. Courtesy ©Wikimedia Commons.
Roman fresco with banquet scene from the Casa dei Casti Amanti (IX 12, 6-8). Photo Wolfgang Rieger. Courtesy ©Wikimedia Commons.

A special treat is in store in Pompeii for Valentine’s day this year: the special opening of the well-preserved and usually closed House of the Chaste Lovers.

The first-century, 16,000-square-foot site, once a baker’s home, succumbed with the rest of the city to the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The site will be specially open from February 11 to 14, after which it will close again for a four-year restoration project, part of a larger Pompeii preservation effort.

In tour groups of 20, visitors will be able to enter the exhibition from a new raised walkway under an aluminum and plexiglass roof, and see The Kiss, a fresco on the walls of the triclinium, the small dining room where ancient Romans ate and drank leisurely. The fresco sets the mood, depicting a sensuous couple kissing while lounging at a traditional feast.

The dwelling on via dell’Abbondanza once included a garden (which will be recreated), stables, a stone mill, and a shop. First explored in 1912, when a balcony was unveiled, the site was more thoroughly excavated between 1982 and 2004. Besides a brief opening in 2010, the House of Chaste Lovers is usually closed to the public eye.

“We are opening it for Saint Valentine’s because we wanted the public to be able to get in before we close the site to refurbish the roof and supporting structure,” the project’s head architect Michele Granatiero told AFP.


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