Pompeii's House of Lovers has opened to the public for the first time in 40 years, offering visitors a clearer picture of a life interrupted and an ancient city in flight.

A view of a room, completely frescoed, in Pompeii's House of Lovers
Pompeii's House of Lovers has opened to the public for the first time in 40 years Marco Cantile/LightRocket/Getty Images

The House of the Lovers has reopened to the public 40 years after it suffered extensive damage in an earthquake. A rich dwelling with a well-tended garden, it's considered to be the greatest attraction of the ruined city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. That's because it is the only 'domus' whose second floor and decorations were discovered almost completely intact. As such, it offers a vivid snapshot of life in Pompeii at the time and gives modern-day visitors immediate contact with the ancient world.

Glass jars and bottles on display from Pompeii's House of Lovers
Objects found inside the House of Lovers Marco Cantile/LightRocket/Getty Images

The building was discovered in 1933 but has been closed for repair following the Irpinia earthquake in 1980, which killed almost 3000 people. The House of Lovers gets its name from a Latin inscription beside the entrance: “Amantes, ut apes, vita(m) mellita(m) exigunt. Velle” (Lovers like bees pass a sweet life like honey. I wish it were so).

The restoration works are part of the so-called Great Pompeii Project, which started in 2014 and is supported mainly through EU funding. Under the Project, the House of Lovers will open alongside two other domus: the Casa della Nave Europa  (European Ship House) and the Casa del Frutteto (House of the Orchard).

A mosaic floor in Pompeii
The floor mosaic inside the House of Lovers Mario Laporta/Kontrolab/Getty Images

Last year, a newly-discovered erotic fresco was unveiled to the public in the ruins of a Pompeiian merchant's townhouse in Via del Vesuvio and Italy's culture minister reopened Casa del Bicentenario (House of the Bicentenary), in nearby Herculaneum, to the public for the first time in 35 years.

Anphorae in the House of Lovers in the archaeological site of Pompeii
Amphorae in the House of Lovers Carlo Hermann/Kontrolab/LightRocket/Getty Images

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii is the second most visited attraction in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome.

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