Pompeii’s Summer Amusements

In the past year, the once deserted city of Pompeii has really come to life. Beginning in the fall of 2005, Pompeii has hosted a year-long celebration of its history with special exhibits and activities devoted to each season. After “Moods of Autumn,” “Winter: Romantic Pompeii,” and “The Spring”, Pompeii is now in full swing of “Summer Amusements.” The intention of this year-long schedule of events, according to the Caretakers Association of Pompeii, is to “let the modern visitor relive the sensations that the travelers of the era experienced as they saw the newly rediscovered city, and compares the places as they appear today with descriptions by writers and images of the period.”

Throughout the month of July visitors to Pompeii can indulge in “summer’s delights” just as the city’s original Roman inhabitants did. The native plane trees have been replanted and flower gardens have been restored according to the description of their former beauty. Visitors will be taken on a tour of the traditional recreational events offered in Pompeii, including games and theatrical shows in Pompeii’s famous amphitheater. They can also enjoy many of the ancient compacts and refreshments—everything from curative mud to cooling beverages infused with lemon, chamomile, mallow, and verbena—which have been recreated according to the readings of Pliny.

Also, Pompeii’s Great Palestra (gymnasium), with its green space and central pool, will be available for tours for the first time ever. The gymnasium was excavated from 1933 to 1935, and except for a very brief period, has never since opened to the public, even after the building’s restoration was completed. The northern porch of the palestra is also currently housing a special exhibition entitled “Pompeii and Water”, which is dedicated to the important role that the river and the sea near Pompeii played in the daily life of its citizens.

“Summer Amusements” runs through July 31st. For more information see the schedule of events, here. — Cailin Birch