Ancient streets in the town of Herculaneum
Ancient streets in the town of Herculaneum

Incredible house in Herculaneum opens for the first time in decades – and we'll take you there in 2020

Dr. Eireann Marshall, our award-winning guide, has revealed that the House of the Bicentenary in Herculaneum has just been reopened for the first time in decades

What's more, if you book a place on any of our Pompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania tours in 2020, which already include some brand new unique special and private access experiences, we will also now take you to visit the House of the Bicentenary. Andante Travels is the only tour operator to offer an entire full day at the site of Herculaneum because our archaeologists recognise the importance of the multitude of history and range of remains to be found there. As Eireann says, "so much more is visible in Herculaneum" so we would never rush a visit to this worthy site. 

Speaking about the exciting new opening (pictured throughout this article thanks to Eireann's behind-the-scenes snaps!), Eireann explains:

"It is one of the most sumptuous houses in Herculaneum, which includes a unique, intact wooden trellis that separates a bedroom from the atrium. The Getty Conservation Institute is still working on the wonderful frescoes in the tablinum – some of the finest in all of Herculaneum – though the rest of the house has been restored. In addition to the house being splendid for the state of its conservation, we also know a lot about the intriguing lives of its inhabitants."

"The house was owned by Gaius Petronius Stephanus and we know this because of 18 documents found within it that relate to a lawsuit regarding the status of one of its inmates, namely Petronia Justa. Petronia was born in the house, the daughter of the slave Petronia Vitalis, who was later freed having seemingly made a considerable amount of money.

At the time of the eruption, Petronia Justa was living in a nearby house and was being taken to court by Calatoria, the widow of Gaius Petronius Stephanus. Calatoria was claiming that Petronia Justa was born while her mother was still a slave, and that she was, thereby, a slave. Had Calatoria been successful in the lawsuit, she would not only have been able to claim Petronia Justa as property, but would have laid claim to the whole of her estate. This is one of the most famous lawsuits in ancient Rome, revealing a lot about slaves and their manumission – and we don’t know how it ends because the case was appealed and was due to be heard in Rome."