In the basement of an Italian movie theater in Verona that has been vacant for 20 years, a construction team recently discovered the remains of what may have been an ancient Roman hotel. The Superintendency of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona, Rovigo, and Vicenza announced the findings beneath the city’s abandoned Astra cinema at a press conference last week.
The ancient structure is believed to date back to the 2nd century C.E. It may have caught fire, causing its roof to collapse. Preserved as part of the ruins are pieces of charred wood furniture, wall frescoes, and tiled mosaics.
The Superintendency, which is responsible for protecting the cultural heritage of the region, described the find as “exceptional,” calling it a “mini Pompeii” with “elegantly frescoed walls, decorated concrete floors, [and] heating systems.” The agency plans to use special photo software to recreate 3-D textured models of the sections and reliefs.
The Superintendency also said it found tesserae (small pieces of stone, glass, or ceramic used in mosaic work) and crustae (blocks of colored marble), both of which were inlaid in the pavement. Similarly tiled floors were also discovered in the villas and other buildings at Pompeii, which was buried in some 13–20 feet of ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E.
Verona’s mayor, Federico Sboarina, called it a “spectacular discovery.” He said that the ruins were undisturbed because of the fire, which kept them “preserved to this day as in Pompeii.” He added, “Our wonderful city never ceases to amaze us.”