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House of the Restaurant

Description of the House (Reg IX, Ins 5, 14-16)

The House of the Restaurant is situated on the west side of the Vicolo del Centenario, a narrow lane which lies to the south of the Via di Nola. The house, left of centre in the picture below,
is in a seriously dilapidated condition having been neglected and left to the ravages of the elements since it was initially excavated in 1878. The property is linked to, and incorporates, the adjoining popina or lupanare which has its own separate entrance at door no.16 on the unnamed street that defines the southern limit of the insula.
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The paving is composed of a fine white mosaic framed by a broad black border. There is a decorative threshold between the fauces and the atrium consisting of black tesserae forming a stylized floral pattern on a white ground.
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When the house was excavated, the then accepted practice was to strip the house bare of anything that didn't move. Had this attitude not prevailed these frescoes, and those in the adjoining room (c) (or possibly room (h) according to which source you believe) would in all probability have now been lost. The frescoes in question include Pyramus and Thisbe, Aeneas before Dido and Bacchus and Ariadne with the thiasus. These frescoes can now be seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

On the north and south sides of the atrium are the large alae (d) and (d') which are in a similar state of disrepair as the atrium itself. A doorway in the south wall of ala (d') gives access to the second atrium (l). The best preserved rooms in the main part of the house are the cubicula (e) and (f).
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Cubiculum (f) on the south side of the fauces is decorated in a similar manner with red panels on a yellow ground (pictured below). All three central mythological scenes are still in place. They are perhaps not of the highest quality but they do exhibit  a naive simplicity.
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The scene on the north wall (pictured opposite)
is of Hercules and Omphale. On the east wall, facing the entrance, is a scene depicting Ariadne and Dionysus with a panther and a statue of Pan (pictured lower right) while on the south wall is a painting of Europa and the Bull (pictured below).
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One such scene, found in a multitude of fragments in the south colonnade, is of Neptune and Amphitrite (pictured above). It has since been painstakingly pieced back together and is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

The large rooms on the east side of the peristyle, including room (i), one of the potential sources of several frescoes to be found in the Naples Museum, are now completely devoid of  any remaining plasterwork.

Opening off the south side of the peristyle was the service area which included the kitchen (j) (pictured opposite) with its large hearth. When the kitchen was excavated there were traces of  a painted lararium on the south wall. The service area also included a latrine and a flight of stairs to the upper floor. This area of the house sustained further structural damage in 2010 when part of a wall collapsed.
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Perhaps the best preserved room of the whole property is cubiculum (o) which opens off the west side of the atrium (l). The room is decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed in red with internal green decorative borders above a lower white frieze. The white panels contain erotic scenes and occasional floating figures. A window on the east wall was blocked up some time before the eruption.
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The fauces (a) opens off the west side of the Vicolo del Centenario. Although the walls of the fauces have lost all of their original fresco decoration the mosaic paving is still virtually intact (pictured below).
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The fauces opens onto a rectangular atrium (shown left) complete with central implu
vium. The walls of the atrium retain several large areas of plasterwork which appear to show that the decoration consisted of large red panels ornamented with mythological scenes, none of which remain is situ.
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Cubiculum (e) is decorated in the fourth style with large red panels with internal decorative borders on a yellow ground above a lower geometric frieze. The central panel on each wall contained a mythological scene. The one remaining scene (rather blurred but pictured left and below) shows Venus with a group of cupids fishing.
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The atrium opens directly onto the peristyle (g) to the west which had a small central garden (h). The peristyle was colonnaded on two sides with four columns on the east side and five shorter columns on the south side all supporting the inner margins of the roof (pictured left). The columns, which are fluted, consist of stuccoed brickwork. The walls of the portico were decorated with yellow panels on a white ground (pictured below) with the occasional mythological scene.
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The second entrance (k) at door No 16 opens directly onto a rectangular atrium (l) which has the remains of a central impuvium. The atrium (pictured left looking north, with the doorway to ala (d') on the left of the photograph) is in a very distressed state with no remaining plasterwork. When first excavated the ala 'm' had several decorative frescoes which were removed to the safety of the Naples Museum.
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To the south of the cubiculum is the kitchen area (n) which also included a latrine. On the south wall of the kitchen was a painted lararium but this has long since vanished.


* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are reproduced by permission from their website at www.pompeiiinpictures.com
(Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali: Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei)


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