BEYOND DEATH: THE CRYPT OF ST. ANASTASIO

A multi-purpose site.

In Corso Alfieri, at n.367, there is the palace built in 1908 housing the classrooms of Vittorio Alfieri Gymnasium; underground you can discover a mysterious ancient place: the Crypt of St. Anastasio.

The complex of St. Anastasio is a multi-purpose site: an archaeological area, a lapidary museum and a medieval Crypt. It takes name from the Romanesque church dedicated to St. Anastasio built here in the eleventh century, a Persian saint to whom the Lombard king Liutprando, who ruled Asti Dukedom in the eighth century, was very devoted.

Among the finds exhibited in the lapidary museum there are an altar frontal, which was originally polychrome, representing Christ in Mandorla surrounded by Saints and Evangelists symbols; the columns belonged to Catena Palace (depicted in a drawing by Ottavio Baussano), sculpted stones coming from noble houses, capitals showing coats of arms of aristocratic families from Asti, a piece of a fountain, arch fragments and remains of monasteries and churches destroyed in the Napoleonic period.

The eternal cycle of life and death.

The feeling is that of crossing eras literally, walking through the corridors under which several vestiges can be seen, such as remains of apses and pieces of Roman Forum paving, while on the sides you can discover the ruins of walls connected to the several construction phases of the Romanesque church with the step that was the original access to the Crypt.

Before reaching the heart of this mystic place, you can still observe the tombs from the Lombard age in which members of the privileged classes were buried. Symbolically death gives us information about life. The place itself is a succession of human beings that contributed to change its morphology and physical orientation in order to comfort, nourish and exalt the spirit of people that went through it. Sesquipedalian bricks from the Roman period form the Capuchin tombs, Lombard columns join to make a support for the first Romanesque crypt. A Baroque wall is all that remains of the last stylistic phase of the church that had the façade on Corso Alfieri.

After this long route, you arrive at the Crypt (a Latin word that means hidden), originally placed under the presbytery of the Romanesque church, where recycled materials from Roman and Lombard periods give life to a cosy prayer room that overcomes the barriers of time and restores dignity to the ancient through re-use and transformation.

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