The last patrons who stood at the L-shaped counter of Pompeii’s best-known snack bar eating the house-speciality – baked cheese smothered in honey – had to leave in a hurry owing to violent volcanic activity. But after an unforeseen break in business of 1,921 years, the former holiday hotspot of ancient Rome’s in-crowd will finally re-open for business tomorrow.
Visitors will be taken on a guided tour of the thermopolium (snack bar), once owned by Vetutius Placidus, and taste some of the food that was popular before the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 that buried the city under 60 feet of ash and pumice.
As with many high-profile launches, tomorrow sees an advance opening ceremony for 300 special guests, chosen at random for a taste of Roman café society, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. The full opening will take place later.
When Vesuvius erupted for two days, most of its citizens died as an enormous wave of scalding gas and dust tore down the volcano’s flanks and enveloped the city.
The thermopolium, one of the best preserved sites in Pompeii, has been closed to the public for years in order to protect it from further damage. But following months of detailed excavation and preservation work, all visitors will soon be able to go inside and get an idea of a typical ancient Roman lunch establishment.