At first Castel Viscardo was a fortification of the “State of Orvieto”, built in a strategic position. Its foundation and denomination is due to Cavalier Viscardo Ranieri, a member of one of the most important families in the Orvieto district. The town was built around the first stronghold, in the historical moment which is called “Tardo Incastellamento Umbro”.
Before the foundation of Castel Viscardo, not far from the present settlement there was a small village called Selci. This village whose name was derived from the large amount of basalt stone in the area, was formed on the remains of a Roman settlement, in turn built to replace an Etruscan settlement.
Testimony to the Etruscan presence is the necropolis in Caldane, situated on what were the ancient Etruscan-Roman roads Cassia and Traiana Nova. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the necropolis consists of about 40 small single-chamber tombs…
The tombs are carved into the natural terrain and have graves that produced many finds now displayed in the museums of Orvieto. The necropolis is located inside a spectacular beech forest that is a rarity, since it is not common to find this type of tree at that altitude.
The town is around a park surrounded by the mighty walls of the castle and its streets. Other important historical buildings stand out above all the Maria SS. Annunziata Church (1682), which houses valuable works including those by Carlo Maratta (1683-84), Giacomo Wernle and Niccolò Tornioli (Annunciation, 1683). Of particular importance in the church is the ivory crucifix (a single tusk) donated in the 18th century by the Spada-Veralli family to the parish. Legend says that it was donated by the Sun King Louis XIV to Cardinal Fabrizio Spada-Veralli when he was the apostolic nuncio in France.
In the nearby village of Monterubiaglio there is a the castle built by the Monaldeschi family, and another archaeological area (Coriglia locality) where remains of Roman villas emerge, a votive bronze statue linked to the cult of the waters, and remains of structures linked to the control of the thermal waters. This testifies that since ancient times the presence of thermal water was well known and the same water was then used by the nearby Sources of Tiberius, a place frequented by many VIPs in the 1970’s.
The entire area around Castel Viscardo has always had rich thermal waters that have made the hills fertile for crops (olives in particular), and clay which is a raw material indispensable for the production of terracotta and bricks. References have been made to the processing and production of terracotta in Castel Viscardo since the 17th century with the presence of a kiln Fornace de Le Trobbe.
Even today, the town is known and associated with the production of terracotta that local artisans produce and work manually with the use of ancient and traditional wood-fired kilns. In the kilns the clay is “cooked” at high temperatures for several days before turning into fine bricks. In the center of the town is the multimedia pottery museum of Castel Viscardo. In the first room a video of the history of the kilns is projected, both of bricks and of the now disappeared kilns of pots, jars, dishes and votive images. In the second room there is a reconstruction of a kiln.