"Things to see: Thermopolia and Caponae" Thermopolium Tip by goodfish

Thermopolium, Pompeii: 12 reviews and 23 photos

  Thermopolium, Pompeii
by goodfish
  • Thermopolium, Pompeii - Pompeii
      Thermopolium, Pompeii
    by goodfish
  • - Pompeii

The purpose of these commonly seen circular receptacles is often mistaken for a function we associated with toilet paper. Not so. They once held containers of wine (called dolia) or hot meals in the ancient Roman's version of fast food outlets or pubs: the thermopolium or capona. The number of holes correspond to the varieties of wine and food that were available for purchase. You could buy your wine hot or cold, chug it down it at the counter or at tables in an attached room if your pub/cafe was on the biggish side. Some of them even had our equivalent of banquet halls for rent.

Just as we do now, the citizens of Pompeii headed for neighborhood taverns to play games, talk business, argue politics or just hang out. Only the largest homes had kitchens so thermopolia fed Pompeians with no formal cooking facilities and travelers passing through. It's also believed that the noon meal was customarily eaten away from home so these would probably have been busy lunch counters - and pretty ones too if inlaid with colored scraps of marble (see 2nd photo).

That function involving toilet paper? The average citizen used public latrines connected to primitive septic systems. Larger villas had private privies located in or near the kitchen for easy access to running water and other means of disposing waste material. Ewww...

See the attached web page for more info on Roman pubs.

Address: Various places, Pompeii
Website: http://www.espr-archeologia.it/articles/59/Thermopolia-and-inns

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 21, 2012
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