Is a street a via or a Via?

It depends.  The rules for capitalizing words in English and Italian differ.  In English, all of the words in the name of a street or road are capitalized.  In Italian, only the proper nouns are capitalized (such as via Roma), unless the name is used at the beginning of a sentence or in a title.  The Italian convention has been used in this publication, resulting in via dell’Abbondanza, rather than Via dell’Abbondanza. (ILGUR: Italian Language, Grammar and Usage Resource)

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Via dell'Abbondanza

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One of the first steps in developing a photomosaic project plan was to define and select an appropriate subject.  Individual buildings and city blocks were considered, but a complete street seemed preferable.  This would allow a variety of building types to be recorded using an urban artery as the unifying theme.

Each of the major streets in Pompeii was evaluated for archaeological significance, architectural interest, general condition and accessibility.  Via Consolare, via Stabiana, via di Nola and via dell’Abbondanza were identified as possible subjects.  While all of these streets met most of the criteria, via dell’Abbondanza was recognized as having a number of unique features:

  • Access to the forum
  • Two public buildings at its intersection with the forum, the Eumachia Building and the Comitium
  • A large public bath complex, the Stabian Baths
  • A major crossroad with via Stabiana
  • Connecting crossroads leading to the triangular forum, theaters, palaestra and amphitheater
  • A variety of elite residences, houses, apartments, shops and workshops
  • One of the earliest properties excavated in Pompeii, the Praedia di Iulia Felix
  • One of the city portals, the Sarno Gate
  • Agricultural areas including vineyards

At almost 900 meters, it is the longest street in Pompeii.

Almost every modern-day visitor has strolled along some part of via dell’Abbondanza.  Two thousand years ago the houses, apartments, businesses and workspaces of all of Pompeii’s social classes fronted onto this bustling thoroughfare which also included grand public buildings and shrines.  There is possibly no other single street that better depicts the diverse lives of the people who lived in this ancient city.  It was, therefore, selected as the prime candidate for the recording project.