inglesecittą d'arte, cittą da scoprire - town of art, town to discover



Chiesa di Casaranello - Madonna stante (X sec.)The town stretches smoothly along the extreme part of the Salento Murgiae. Once a big agricultural centre, now an industrial one, it is expanding more and more. Its hinterland has become an economic and cultural point of reference for the whole of the lower Salento. 

Its history is incomplete and its origins remain shrouded in mystery. Some attribute its birth to the Greek era, but there exist many earlier archeological sites i.e. necropoleis of the late Messapic period and camps of the Archaeic Archeulano.

During the division of the Roman Empire Casarano was an integral part of the Eastern Roman Empire, thus developing and absorbing all the charm of the bizantine culture. 


It was subject to many misfortunes throughout its early early history and was completely destroyed by the Saracens in 842AD. It was subsequently rebuilt not far from the original centre, thus creating two centres with the same name but ecclesiastically and admistratively distinct so that in an ecclesiatical document dated 1270 they were called  OPPIDUM CASARANI MAGNI and in CASARANI PARVI (Casarano Big and Casarano Little).

In 1484 Casarano was occupied by the Venetians who, after conquering Gallipoli, set their camps in the neighbouring centres. The 18th centuary was for Casarano a period of social rebirth and development and we see the introduction of important commercial fairs and markets together with the building of various churches and other religious works. It was also a period of social unrest during which Casarano sacrificed the life of one of its most famous sons, Francesco Antonio Astore, an illuminist philosopher, killed in Naples in 1799 by the Sanfedisti.


Among the most important things to see in Casarano are:

  • The church of St. Mary of the Cross or Casaranello a splendid church of the 5th century A.D. and one of the first in Puglia built in the shape of a latin cross. Inside there are paiaeo-christian mosaic and paintings of the 13th century. This is one of the most important acheological sites of the region and its history is documented in a number of reference books and texts.

  • The Church of St. Eliah was built in the year 1000, it is situated on a roman road which joined Ruffano to the Via Traiana. The church is built on a crossroads which leads to the crypt of the Crucifix. .

  • Crypt of the Crucifix or of St Costantina a Basilian monastery of the XIlth  century, Inside there are paintings of the Bizantine period. it is situated in a natural cave and painted inside according to the rules of the Basilian penod.

  • The Hill where the Church of the Campana is situated enjoys one of the finest views of Salento. At the top of the hill there is the church of the «Madonna della Campana» (1600) which was built on the ruins of another small church of the greek period. The  feast in honour of the Madonna della Campana is celebrated the first Sunday after Easter. In particular,  the children are all dressed in traditional costumes and particiapte in a procession from the village to the church at the top of the hill.

  • The parochial church: built in 1700 and has been enriched over the years  with baroque altars and canvases by TISO. It stands, toghether with the Watch Tower (1730) and St. John's Column (1850) as the symbol of Casarano

  • Piazza d'Elia: can be considered the most beautiful square of Casarano with its two palaces serving as frame and background. The first is Palazzo d'Elia which is nowadays a cultural centre, the second is Palazzo de' Judicibus, a real jewel of architecture because of the equilibrium of its forms.