I have recently been reading about Pius IX’s visit to Pompeii in 1849, while he was enjoying the king’s hospitality at Portici. He visited Pompeii on 22nd October and Herculaneum on 25th October (the small excavated part of Herculaneum was strewn with flowers!). There are contemporary accounts of Pius’ visits, and we know that he came to Pompeii with a huge entourage and that his visit was carefully orchestrated. His day appears to have gone something like this:
Entrance to the site through the Via dei Sepolchi and the Herculaneum Gate - House of the Faun – On-going excavations on Via Fortuna (at the second crossroads after the House of the Faun) - House of the Suonatrice (House of Marcus Lucretius on the Via Stabiana) – On-going excavations, possibly in the house next to the House of the Suonatrice (later named the House of Pius IX, of course!) – LUNCH in the Stabian Baths – Forum – Via dell’ Abbondanza – Triangular Forum – Theatre – Temple of Asclepius – Odeon – Theatre Portico – Temple of Isis – Then across unexcavated land to the Amphitheatre where he was met by crowds of the faithful. For parts of the visit Pius IX was carried by cart.
All well and good, although there is actually some discussion about which houses/shops he saw being excavated, which is relevant because at the end of the visit he was given all the uncovered artefacts from these excavations for the Papal Collection of Pagan Artefacts. Actually the uncovered artefacts were not particularly valuable, but their donation was a gesture to a Pope who was extremely interested in excavation (and sponsored work at Ostia and Rome). There is also a good chance that the excavations were staged - and in fact Fiorelli reports that excavations in the house/shops were begun in anticipation of the Pope's visit.
One of the things that strikes me the most, however, is what a good example this is of 'changes' being made to the excavations for the benefit of a famous visitor. In ‘Pompeii Awakened’ (2007), Judith Harris claims that stone stepping stones along his route were removed – AND NEVER REPLACED – so that the papal cart could pass by! She doesn’t give the source of her information, however, but I can remember noticing missing stones in the past, so she may well be right that it can all be blamed on Pius IX's visit.
Just as a matter of curiosity, can any of you working on streets can tell me the locations of the missing stepping stones?! I'm interested to see if we can fix the route that Pius IX took through the excavations ...
There is apparently a painting of Pius IX watching the excavations at Pompeii in the Vatican collection, but I have yet to find it.