The Italian Almanac

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ready for re opening

Italian News - October 26

The famed brothel of Pompeii, one of the ancient city's main tourist attractions, is re-opening after much-needed restoration. Lovers of the ancient and naughty have been forced to wait a year, while the premises were revamped, to enjoy the brothel's famously explicit pictures.

They'll get their fresh peeks at the notorious erotica when the restored building is unveiled today. The wall paintings, which depict a wide variety of sexual acts and positions, are one of the biggest draws for the estimated one million visitors Pompeii attracts each year.

The so-called Lupanare - from the Latin word 'lupa' (wolf), a codeword for prostitute - is located in the port area of the city, which was buried by an eruption of the nearby volcano Mt Vesuvius.

Experts say there were small cat-houses above shops all over the city but the Lupanare was a mecca of no-holds-barred prostitution and one of the favourite destinations of visitors even in ancient times. Scions of patrician families who had their villas in luxury resorts across the bay (now part of Naples) poured into Pompeii's Lupanare to slum it and enjoy some uncomplicated, no-nonsense sex.

The rooms in the Lupanare are small cubicles with a ledge along one side that was in ancient times covered with a mattress. The erotic pictures, painted in a rough hand, are mostly found over the entrances to the rooms and are believed to have advertised the sort of act the room's sex workers specialised in.

Scrawled throughout the two-storey building are graffiti singing the joys of sex and praising the abilities of some of the prostitutes who worked there.