Photos: Pompeii’s House of Lovers reopens to public after 40 years

A giant eruption of Mount Vesuvius devastated the ancient Roman city of Pompeii nearly 2,000 years ago, covering everything in its path with volcanic ash. That sediment helped to preserve many buildings almost in their original state, as well as the curled-up corpses of Vesuvius' victims. After a painstaking project that saw an army of workers reinforce walls, repair collapsing structures and excavate untouched areas of the sprawling site, One of Pompeii’s most celebrated buildings, the House of Lovers, has reopened to the public at Italy's second most visited tourist destination after Rome's Colosseum.

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST 9 Photos
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A restorer works on a fresco in the House of Lovers "Casa degli Amanti", one of three restored domus --family residences for the upper classes --reopened to the public at the archaeological site of Pompeii, Italy 40 years after it was severely damaged in 1980 by an earthquake. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

A restorer works on a fresco in the House of Lovers "Casa degli Amanti", one of three restored domus --family residences for the upper classes --reopened to the public at the archaeological site of Pompeii, Italy 40 years after it was severely damaged in 1980 by an earthquake. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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Kicked off in 2014, the restoration enlisted teams of archaeologists, architects, engineers, geologists and anthropologists and cost $113 million, largely covered by the European Union. The project was initiated after UNESCO warned in 2013 it could strip the site of its World Heritage status after a series of collapses blamed on lax maintenance and bad weather. (Press Office of the Pompei Archaeological Park / AFP)

Kicked off in 2014, the restoration enlisted teams of archaeologists, architects, engineers, geologists and anthropologists and cost $113 million, largely covered by the European Union. The project was initiated after UNESCO warned in 2013 it could strip the site of its World Heritage status after a series of collapses blamed on lax maintenance and bad weather. (Press Office of the Pompei Archaeological Park / AFP)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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Vivid frescoes and never before seen inscriptions were among treasures unearthed in a massive years-long restoration of the world-famous archaeological site that came to a close Tuesday. New discoveries were made too, in areas not yet explored by modern-day archaeologists at the site -- frequently pillaged for jewels and artefacts over the centuries. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

Vivid frescoes and never before seen inscriptions were among treasures unearthed in a massive years-long restoration of the world-famous archaeological site that came to a close Tuesday. New discoveries were made too, in areas not yet explored by modern-day archaeologists at the site -- frequently pillaged for jewels and artefacts over the centuries. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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Even on the final day, workers were carefully restoring ancient frescoes, hues dulled by years of dirt and calcifications, and cleaning off centuries-old tile floors. “You have to be careful not to take off too much,” explained Aldo Guida, who was scratching at the surface of the oxblood walls of the House of Lovers, a two-storey home in the complex. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

Even on the final day, workers were carefully restoring ancient frescoes, hues dulled by years of dirt and calcifications, and cleaning off centuries-old tile floors. “You have to be careful not to take off too much,” explained Aldo Guida, who was scratching at the surface of the oxblood walls of the House of Lovers, a two-storey home in the complex. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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A Latin verse inscribed next to an incision of ducks reads "Lovers like bees live a life as sweet as honey”, inside the House of Lovers. “When you excavate in Pompeii there are always surprises,” the site’s general director Massimo Osanna told reporters Tuesday. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

A Latin verse inscribed next to an incision of ducks reads "Lovers like bees live a life as sweet as honey”, inside the House of Lovers. “When you excavate in Pompeii there are always surprises,” the site’s general director Massimo Osanna told reporters Tuesday. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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Archaeologists discovered in October a vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent gushes blood, painted in a tavern believed to have housed the fighters as well as prostitutes. And in 2018, an inscription was uncovered that proves the city was destroyed after October 17, 79 AD, and not on August 24 as previously believed. (Alessandro Pone / LaPresse via AP)

Archaeologists discovered in October a vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent gushes blood, painted in a tavern believed to have housed the fighters as well as prostitutes. And in 2018, an inscription was uncovered that proves the city was destroyed after October 17, 79 AD, and not on August 24 as previously believed. (Alessandro Pone / LaPresse via AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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A fresco is pictured inside the House of Orchard "Casa del Frutteto", one of three restored domus. That might not be the end of fresh discoveries. “It’s certain that by carrying out other excavation projects in areas never explored before, the discoveries will be extraordinary,” Osanna added. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

A fresco is pictured inside the House of Orchard "Casa del Frutteto", one of three restored domus. That might not be the end of fresh discoveries. “It’s certain that by carrying out other excavation projects in areas never explored before, the discoveries will be extraordinary,” Osanna added. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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Some of the site had been closed to the public during the restoration, including several domus that have been since reopened to the public. The House of Orchards domus features intricately detailed frescoes of fruit trees and birds, while the House of the Ship Europa boasts a sketch of a large merchant ship. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

Some of the site had been closed to the public during the restoration, including several domus that have been since reopened to the public. The House of Orchards domus features intricately detailed frescoes of fruit trees and birds, while the House of the Ship Europa boasts a sketch of a large merchant ship. (Ciro De Luca / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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A restoration specialist working inside the House of Lovers. Though the bulk of the restoration work is now complete, director Osanna said running repairs will never truly be over. “It’s a city in ruins,” he said. “The attention we pay to it must never stop.” (Alexandria Sage / AFP)

A restoration specialist working inside the House of Lovers. Though the bulk of the restoration work is now complete, director Osanna said running repairs will never truly be over. “It’s a city in ruins,” he said. “The attention we pay to it must never stop.” (Alexandria Sage / AFP)

UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 06:57 PM IST
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