Pompeii’s fast food joint unearthed in 2019 opens to public

Frescoed relic frozen by ash from Vesuvius eruption reveals snack bar used by poor residents of Roman city

An ancient thermopolium, or fast food eatery, that was unearthed in Pompeii in 2019 will open to the public this week.

The frescoed relic, which had been preserved by ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD74, was found in Regio V, a 21.8-hectare (54-acre) site to the north of Pompeii’s archaeological park near the Bay of Naples in southern Italy.

Archaeologists also discovered a floor made from polychrome marble as well as the remnants of duck bones, pigs, goats, fish and snails in earthenware pots, leading researchers to believe that one of the dishes on the menu was a type of paella.

A painting is restored at the thermopolium.
A painting is restored at the thermopolium. Photograph: Luigi Spina/AP

Dozens of other thermopolia have been found throughout the archaeological park. The snack bars were mostly used by poorer residents of ancient Pompeii who rarely had a kitchen in their homes. Typical menus included coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.

Alongside a visit to the thermopolium, visitors will be able to get a glimpse of two mansions – Casa di Orione and Casa del Giardino – that were also found in Regio V and are being restored.

Regio V, which is not yet fully open to the public, has been the most intensive dig at the site since the 1960s.

A worker cleans a mosaic at a nearby Casa di Orione, which will also be opening.
A worker cleans a mosaic at a nearby Casa di Orione, which will also be opening. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/EPA

Other finds at Regio V in recent years include the perfectly preserved remains of two men who are believed to have died as they were fleeing the eruption of Vesuvius. In August 2019, archaeologists discovered a “sorcerer’s treasure trove” with relics including crystals, buttons made of bones, glass beads and mirrors.


Angela Giuffrida

The GuardianTramp

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