One of Pompeii’s most celebrated buildings, the House of Lovers, will reopen to the public on Tuesday, 40 years after it was severely damaged in an earthquake.
The domus, considered to be among the jewels of the ancient city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79, was discovered in 1933 with its second floor and decorations almost completely preserved.
The building was closed for repair following the Irpinia earthquake in 1980, which killed almost 3,000 people.
The restoration was completed as part of the EU-funded Great Pompeii Project, which since 2012 has allowed the archaeological park to undertake wide-ranging restoration works and carry out new excavations.
The Italian culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said the reopening of the domus is “a story of rebirth and redemption” and “a model for all of Europe in the management of EU funds”.
The name of the house, which dates back to the first century BC, was derived from a Latin inscription to the right of its entrance that translates as: “Lovers like bees pass a sweet life like honey. I wish it were so.”
The home’s impeccably preserved frescoes contain images representing life and landscapes. Two other restored homes – House of the Europa Ship and House of the Orchard – have also been reopened.
In addition, works to make the site more secure have been completed.
“Pompeii is now completely safe and so the loss of further archaeological material can be avoided,” said Massimo Osanna, the park’s superintendent.
Pompeii, which attracts almost 4 million visitors a year, has come a long way since 2013, when Unesco threatened to place it on its list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.
The threat followed several incidents over the previous years, including the collapse of the House of Gladiators and a several walls. Other shortcomings included a lack of qualified staff, structural damage and vandalism.
The Great Pompeii Project also involved excavations at Regio V, a 21.8-hectare site to the north of the archaeological park. Work wrapped up towards the end of last year but over 18 months dozens of new discoveries were made, with one of the last major finds being a fresco depicting fighting gladiators. Human remains were also found, including the skeletons of two women and three children huddled together in a villa, as well as the remains of a harnessed horse and saddle.
Meanwhile, the House of the Bicentenary, an ancient Roman domus at the archaeological site of Herculaneum, a town close to Pompeii that was also buried by Vesuvius, was reopened to the public in October after restoration works that lasted 35 years.