The UNESCO site includes three distinct archaeological areas: the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum with the Villa dei Misteri and the Villa dei Papiri, including them, and the villa A (villa of Poppea) and villa B (villa of L. Crasso Terzio ) in Torre Annunziata (Oplontis). The vast extension of the commercial city of Pompeii contrasts with the smaller but better preserved remains of Herculaneum, a holiday resort of ancient Rome, while the splendid frescoes of Villa Oplontis in Torre Annunziata give a vivid representation of the opulent lifestyle of which the wealthier classes enjoyed at the beginning of the Roman Empire.
The eruption of Vesuvius of 24 August 79 D.C. overwhelmed the two thriving Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and numerous other luxury villas in the area.
Pompeii is the only archaeological site in the world to provide a complete picture of the ancient Roman city. The main forum is flanked by several impressive public buildings, such as the Capitolium, the Basilica and the temples, and the city is also equipped with public baths, two theaters and an amphitheater. But Pompeii is famous above all for its unique set of domestic buildings, lined up along well-paved roads. Among all, the most important building in Pompeii is perhaps the Villa dei Misteri, an enormous building that takes its name from the splendid triclinium frescoes, depicting the initiation rites ('mysteries') of the cult of Dionysus. One of the peculiar characteristics of Pompeii is the numerous graffiti on the walls. Numerous extraordinary public buildings are well preserved in Ercolano, including a spacious palaestra, and two public baths. The Villa dei Papiri, just outside the walls, is an opulent construction: designed with a series of 'cuniculi' in the 18th century, only a small part remains accessible. In the city is also worthy of note the full range of shops, which still contain typical equipment, such as huge wine caravans.
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