Pompeii to open Roman ‘fast food’ diner to visitors

Pompeii will open up newly unearthed thermopolium this summer.

The Pompeii archaeological park is to open the recently discovered thermopolium – described as a sort of ancient ‘fast food’ counter – to the public from 12 August.

The thermopolium, unveiled to the media the day after Christmas, is remarkable for its well preserved, colourful frescoes depicting images of animals including geese, a rooster and a dog.

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Archaeologists discovered an inlaid floor of polychrome marble and earthenware pots as well as finding clues about what was on the menu, with one paella-type dish featuring a mixture of mammals, birds, fish and snails.

They also unearthed the skeletons of two men and a dog, buried along with the rest of Pompeii in volcanic ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

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Over the years archaeologists in Pompeii have excavated more than 80 thermopolia, an ancient version of Italy’s tavole calde, which sold ready-to-eat food and were popular among the working classes and those who could not afford a private kitchen.

Pompeii thermopolium

News of the opening of the thermopolium next week comes as Pompeii and other archaeological sites and museums across Italy get to grips with the newly expanded covid Green Pass requirements.

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The Green Pass shows that people have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19, and is now required for access to cultural and leisure venues in addition to indoor dining in restaurants from 6 August.

Tourists who visit Pompeii without the Green Pass are being offered a free covid test which, if negative, allows entry to the archaeological park and remains valid for 48 hours.

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The service, reserved for visitors of the archaeological park, was launched on Friday and is available at the entrance in Piazza Anfiteatro during the site’s opening hours.

The site’s director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said on Twitter that on the first day with the new Green Pass rules, Pompeii welcomed 6,890 people, of whom 319 were not vaccinated and were given a free covid test to allow them to enter.

Photos Parco Pompei, Luigi Spina.