POMPEI, Private Houses

Audio File length: 3.04
English / USA Language: English / USA

Before you begin touring Pompeii, let me tell you a little bit about the typical Pompeiian family home: it included sections that were almost entirely covered, called atriums, and others that were almost entirely uncovered, called peristyles; between the atrium and the peristyle was the family's most sacred area, known as the tablinum, which was the room where guests were welcomed.

Your tour begins with the so-called House of the Faun, where you'll find a beautiful mosaic inscription for guests at the entrance. This domus had two atriums: one to the left for the main part, the other to the right with four columns in the center and a separate entrance for the private part of the palace. There were also two peristyles with gardens: the part which collected the water in the main atrium was richly decorated with marble inlays and with the beautiful Faun statue that gave the domus its name. The noblest room in this wealthy home was called an exedra, and contained a precious floor mosaic representing the Battle of Alexander the Great against Darius; today you can admire the mosaic at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

From the House of the Faun, move on to the House of the Vettii, which is named after the family that owned it. Get ready to enjoy its sophisticated pictorial decorations, with architectural motifs and delightful scenes depicting games and sports competitions.

In the so-called House of Menandro you'll see a lot of paintings that draw inspiration from theatrical scenes. One of the owners was related to Nero's wife, Poppaea, and she was certainly a theater enthusiast; in fact, in one room he had a portrait made of the famous Greek playwright Menandro, who can be recognized by the name written on the hem of his clothes and by the roll in his hand.

But the most famous set of frescoes is in the so-called Villa of the Mysteries outside the city walls. You can reach it by exiting from Porta di Ercolano, walking along Via dei Sepolcri lined with tombs, and going past the Villa of Diomede. Unfortunately, it is not always open to the public, so check before you go! In one of the rooms you'll be able to admire a cycle of large-scale scenes made by a local artist. It has remained practically intact, and depicts a series of rituals and ceremonies that a young woman undergoes to become acquainted with the "mysteries" of an Oriental religion.


FUN FACT: in Pompeii in the evening, the servants would open the aqueduct to clean the streets: they were fitted with white stones that reflected the moonlight so that the servants could see while cleaning. They were more or less the first reflectors in history!

Download MyWoWo! The travel app that tells you about the Wonders of the World!

Share on