The Castel d’Asso is an ancient castle outside Viterbo. It was built in the Middle Ages on the ruins of an old Roman fortress.
Castel d’Asso and Etruscan Tombs Viterbo
From the Terme dei Papi, one can reach the Castel d’Asso along the Strada Bagni.
The medieval Castello d’Asso was built on the ruins of the Roman Castellum Axia, traces of which can still be seen on the rocks between the Rio Freddo and the Fosso Freddano.
In the rock face in front of the castle and along the road to the valley, there are still some Etruscan tombs, which are called tombe a dado because of their regular cube shape.
In the centre of the first tomb you can see an entrance, but the door to the actual tomb is further down. The upper part was used for the funeral rites. The tomb itself was bricked up. All possessions of the deceased were buried in the tomb, as it was thought that he would need them in the next life.
Before the tomb was closed off, a pyre was made, so that the oxygen was used up and what was inside the tombe was better preserved. Nowadays, nothing is left inside the tombs. Many objects have ended up in museums, but, starting in Roman times, a large quantity has also been looted.
During World War II, when Viterbo was regularly bombed, many inhabitants of the city fled their homes to go and live in the tombs. Often several families shared one cave, one had to go to Viterbo to find some food, and of course there was no running water.