The Italian Almanac

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Pompeii

Italian News - June 10

Pompeii has recreated the summer delights its pleasure-loving inhabitants enjoyed as one of Rome's prime resorts. Until the end of July visitors will be taken on a tour of the entertainments the city offered its inhabitants, including games and theatrical events at the Amphitheatre, which was covered by huge awnings for the occasion.

The tour, entitled Summer Pleasures, includes an unprecedented visit to the Great Palestra (Gymnasium) where athletes used to work out and their admirers flock to hang out with them. The Palestra was only excavated in 1933-35 and has never been opened to visitors before.

Its original plane trees - identifiable from the imprints they lift in Vesuvius's ash - were replanted 15 years ago and the area is now fitted out as an ideal spot for visitors to rest and refresh themselves. They can also buy some of the ancient compacts and herbal preparations the Romans used as remedies against the heat. These have been recreated from the writings of Pliny and others and include mud packs and cool drinks flavoured with local products like lemons, camomile, mallow and verbena.

Summer Pleasures will be flanked by another exhibition on Pompeii and Water, showing how the ancients enjoyed the local waters and cooled off in fountains fed by ingenious Roman technology. The show will feature models of Roman water-moving machines and present the results of recent research on the use of water in the Roman world.