The House of the Bicentenary was discovered in 1938, but was closed to the public in 1983 after falling into disrepair. Photograph: Ciro de Luca/Reuters
There is still a significant portion of Herculaneum, which attracts 500,000 visitors a year compared with Pompeii’s 4 million, that needs to be excavated.
Both sites continue to fascinate archaeologists and the general public. A well-preserved fresco depicting fighting gladiators was unearthed at Pompeii in early October. The discovery was found as archaeologists wrapped up excavations in Regio V, a 21.8-hectare (54 acres) site to the north of the archaeological park that is yet to open to the public. The fresco was found on a wall beneath the stairwell of what was probably a tavern frequented by gladiators and which provided accommodation on a higher floor for them to sleep with sex workers.
Excavations have yielded dozens of other discoveries since work began at Regio V last year as part of the EU-funded Great Pompeii Project. A frescoed “fast food” counter, or thermopolium, was found in March and another depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus enraptured by his own reflection in a pool of water was discovered in February. Human remains have also been found, including the skeletons of two women and three children huddled together in a villa, as well as the remains of a harnessed horse and saddle.
Franceschini said money would continue to be invested in both Herculaneum and Pompeii.
“Research is being done at Herculaneum, services have improved and it is a wonderfully attractive place,” he added. “What has been happening at the brightest spot, Pompeii, in recent years has also happened at Herculaneum and we will continue to invest.”