Crypt and Museum of S. Anastasio
“An evocative place, where you can completely immerse yourself and relive the oldest phases of the city, between Roman and Lombard times.”
There are few places in Piedmont as evocative and rich in history as the Crypt of Sant’Anastasio, a true jewel of the city. Because it means literally immersing oneself in the most ancient history of Asti and interpreting the traces of time that intertwine in this site, feeding their roots in Lombard and even Roman times.
In this site you can still see the remains of the Romanesque church dedicated to Sant’Anastasio, which became the seat of an important female monastery from the Eleventh century. The impressive church that was built shortly after 1000 AD had three naves and a system of cross vaults, which were based on squared masonry pillars or on supports formed by four half-columns. Most of the capitals displayed in the museum corridor were to decorate this system of columns itself. The church was provided with a square bell tower, of which, however, only the foundations remain.
With a few exceptions, the capitals displayed in the long corridor belong to the most monumental phase of the church. After its foundation, the monastery of Saint Anastasio had in fact gradually assumed an increasingly important spiritual and economic role: this had led to the need to renovate the structure, enlarging its surface and improving its decorative appearance. You can notice it in the variety of subjects carved on the capitals: figured scenes, angels, crosses, but also spirals and plant motifs.
An entire room of the museum is dedicated to the exhibition of various stone artifacts from the city’s noble palaces. Among them, the coats of arms of noble families of Asti and the architectural decorations stand out, as well as the splendid fragment of four-headed fountain.
In the archeological site there are also tombs in masonry or dug into the ground, reminding the Lombard presence. Radiocarbon analysis in fact has dated the burials to a period ranging from the end of 600 AD to the end of 800 AD.
In some points you can see some stone slabs: they are what remains of the paving of the Forum of Hasta, that is Asti in the Roman period. Right here, facing what is now Corso Alfieri, the ancient Decumano Massimo, there was the city square, with public buildings of religious, commercial and judicial function.