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The Ruined City of Pompeii

House of the Faun  

Named for a small bronze statue of a dancing faun found on the site, this residence is best known for the Have  – Welcome – mosaic at the entrance, and the Alexander Mosaic, one of the most celebrated mosaics to have survived. Once among the largest, most luxurious private residences in Pompeii, the House of the Faun occupies an entire city block.

House of the Vettii

The House of the Vettii is on a back street opposite a bar. Named for its owners, two successful freedmen – Aulus Vettius Conviva and Aulus Vettius Restitutus – it was a luxurious residence. It has many well-preserved murals, including a number of erotic works – though most of these are often kept behind locked doors. In the entrance foyer is a large image of Priapus with a bag of coins and a set of scales. The enclosed formal garden still allows a glimpse of the wealth and taste of its owners. The marble and bronze garden statuary and some household items have been kept in the house, rather than moved to a museum.

The House of the Tragic Poet

Named for a mosaic that has since been moved to a Naples museum, this is an excellent example of a middle-class Roman empire house. Not large, but richly decorated to showcase the owner's wealth. The house is connected to some shops, indicating that it belonged to a merchant. The entrance has a mosaic of a large chained dog with the inscription Cave Canem – Beware of the dog.

Paintings of Narcissus

Paintings of Narcissus – framing a water cascade next to the villa's lovely garden, now replanted with vines and shrubs at the House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto.

The Amphitheater    

One of Italy's most intact and accessible, and also its oldest, dating from 80 BC. It once had room for a crowd of some 12,000. The theatre had stone and wooden seats, VIP lodges, and a canvas sunscreen spanning over the galleries for events and spectacles like Gladiator fights.

The Palestra

A vast parade and training ground used by Pompeii's youth for sport and exercise, the  swimming pool must have been in use when the eruption struck; its southeast corner was found littered with the skeletons of young men trying to flee the disaster.


Mount Vesuvius

The only active volcano on the European continent, Mt. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD79, when it rained ash and molten lava on the city of Pompeii. It is still considered a dangerous volcano, primarily because of the population living nearby.

It has not erupted since 1944.


Villa dei Misteri

Located about half a mile outside Pompeii, this villa survived the eruption of Vesuvius quite well. While it, too, was buried under feet of ash, its walls, ceilings, and notably, its frescoes, were largely undamaged. The Villa dei Misteri is best known for one room – covered with vivid and unusual frescoes. The subject of the frescoes is open to interpretation. Some say the images depict initiation scenes of the cult of Dionysus; others believe they show a young woman undergoing the rites of marriage.