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Archaeological digs in Ascona have unearthed evidence of human civilizations in the area dating back as far as the Iron Age. New evidence of ancient settlements in the region was discovered as late as the 1960's when archaeologists found several artifacts near San Michele Hill believed to date back to the Neolithic Era. The people living in these ancient civilizations are believed to have been Celtic in origin.
Also quite old are Acona's Roman Ruins, which today serve as the foundation for the town's Church of San Materno. The ancient Romans are believed to have had a settlement in Ascona as early as the First Century AD.
During the Middle Ages, Ascona was home to a large number of artists and artisans and was fairly prosperous, in spite of being the target of several invasions and having many of its citizens fall victim to the Plague.
Largely unaffected by the railroads that were built in other parts of the Alps region, Ascona remained isolated from much of modern industry and tourism into the 20th Century. Today Ascona, in part because of this unspoiled nature, attracts many artists, writers and designers as well as visitors who are looking to take a break from faster-paced European cities.