For the first time tourists in Pompeii will be able to visit the biggest thermal baths in the city, as well as a newly-discovered fresco depicting an erotic scene from the Greek myth Leda and the Swan.
Pompeii's Central Baths ( Terme Centrali), which were under construction at the time of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD, have opened to the public for the first time. Bigger and brighter than other baths in the city, the Central Baths were designed to meet the demands of the growing population with a large gymnasium, numerous baths, co-ed changing rooms and a 'sudatorium' (similar to a sauna). Excavators also uncovered the skeleton of a small child in the ruins. "He or she was looking for shelter, and found death instead," Alberta Martellone, who led the excavation, told AFP.
A newly-discovered fresco was also unveiled to the public this week in the ruins of a Pompeiian merchant's townhouse in Via del Vesuvio. The remarkably well-preserved fresco depicts the Spartan queen Leda being seduced by a swan, an image that was fairly common in upper-class homes at the time of the city's catastrophic demise.
This discovery is part of a newly-intensified dig or what's being called a "new golden age" for the Unesco-listed site. Recent finds include a 2000-year-old fast food counter, a beautifully preserved fresco depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus and the skeleton of a young man holding a bag of 22 silver and bronze coins, who had been running with a limp from the pyroclastic flow. The remains of a harnessed horse with a wooden and bronzed saddle were also found in late December.
Pompeii is one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions and one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world. Along with the Central Baths and Leda fresco, visitors can now access the newly-reopened House of Golden Cupids. To see the full list of attractions, visit the official website here.