Casarano: what to see, history, where to eat [guide 2023]

Have you already heard of Casarano but don’t know whether to include it in your Salento itinerary? In this article you will discover its history, the things to see and the reasons why we recommend you to visit it. If you love unusual and less touristy places, this village could really be for you. Moreover, if you want to know where to stay in Salento, this inland town offers the opportunity to find comfortable accommodation within walking distance of the sea and the most important tourist attractions, avoiding the hustle and bustle of the more popular locations.

The town is located in south-western Salento, near Parabita, Matino, Ruffano and a few kilometres from the Ionian coast. Let’s discover together what to see in and around Casarano.

History of Casarano

There is no certain information on the origins of Casarano, but a mix of history and legend takes us back to the Roman period, during which these lands were assigned to the Roman centurion Caesar for military merit during the civil wars. The Roman origins have been confirmed by the discovery of two epigraphs during the restoration of the church of Santa Maria della Croce in Casaranello and by the route of the Via Traiana, which ran from Brindisi to Vereto.

During the jurisdiction of the Byzantines, Casarano became a meeting point between east and west.

In 842, with the invasion of the Saracens, the original settlement fell into decline and a new one was born called Caesaranum magnum (present-day Casarano), as opposed to the original settlement of Caesaranum parvum (Casaranello).

In the following years, the town was subject to different dominations by the Normans, the Swabians and the Venetians, and belonged to various noble families, including the Tomacelli, Filomarino, Conca and D’Aquino families. It is to the D’Aquinos that we owe many of the buildings in Casarano, such as the church of the Madonna della Campana, the castle and other minor churches.

In the 20th century, the town’s economy, which was based on agriculture, shifted to the craft and industrial sectors. Finally, the most recent news dates back to 14 August 1943, when, during the Second World War, Casarano was bombed by the British air force, with the aim of hitting a settlement of Polish soldiers, causing 6 deaths and 17 injuries among civilians.

casarano torre dell'orologio

What to visit in Casarano

Casarano is not as small as we may think; on the contrary, it is among the most densely populated towns of the lower Salento. There are many things to see in Casarano, both in its historic centre and outside. We suggest you dedicate at least a couple of hours to it, to wander around slowly and savour the slowness typical of Salento villages. So, what should you visit in Casarano?

Church of Santa Maria della Croce or Casaranello

Among the things to see in Casarano is undoubtedly “Casaranello”, or the beautiful church of Santa Maria della Croce. It is an example of early Christian architecture, which houses valuable mosaics from the 5th century in the presbytery area and frescoes from the Byzantine era.

On the outside, the church is simple, while the interior is of genuine beauty. The wonderful frescoes, dating back to different periods, depict the Virgin and Child, St Barbara, St Parasceve, St Michael and the diptych in the presbytery, identified with St Nicholas and a figure of a knight. There are also frescoes depicting scenes from the lives of St Catherine of Alexandria and St Margaret of Antioch, St Bernardine of Siena, St Eligius and St Anthony Abbot.

Madonna della Campana

The Church of the Madonna della Campana was built as an ex voto of a sailor to whom, according to tradition, Our Lady saved his life. It was later rebuilt in 1639 by the feudal lord Matteo D’Aquino. The façade, characterised by a simple portal and a window, is sober, while the interior has a single nave, with a triumphal arch separating the presbytery from the rest of the nave.

Church Madre Madonna dell’Annunziata

The Church Madre Vergine Annunziata was built between 1699 and 1712. The façade is characterised by two superimposed orders: the lower one with columns, niches with the statues of St. Peter, St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist and a rich Baroque portal.

The upper order, on the other hand, is crowned by an elegant balustrade and punctuated by pilasters. The interior is in the shape of a Latin cross and contains some important paintings, an expression of Lecce Baroque.

chiesa madre casarano

What to see in Casarano

San Giovanni Castle in Casarano

Another must-see in Casarano is the San Giovanni Castle in Corso XX Settembre, which is actually home to a Psychiatric Residential Rehabilitation Therapeutic Community. The beauty lies in the structure, dating back to 1800, built like a castle. It is not possible to visit it, but it is worth taking a look and admiring it from the outside.

casarano castello


  • Palazzo Capozza, named after the famous Luigi Capozza, its inhabitant, who founded an alcohol factory in 1889, considered the most important in Salento.
  • Palazzo d’Aquino dating from the 17th century, built to celebrate the prestige of the d’Aquino family.
  • Palazzo d’Elia, dating from the 16th century, overlooks the square of the same name.
  • Palazzo de Judicibus was the home, until a few years ago, of the noble De Judicibus family, who arrived in Casarano from Molfetta between the 19th and 20th centuries.
palazzo daquino casarano
Palazzo d’Aquino

How far is the sea from Casarano?

Casarano is about 15-20 km away from the sea, just a few kilometres from some of the most beautiful beaches on the Ionian coast of Salento. From Casarano you can easily reach Gallipoli, Marina di Mancaversa, Torre Suda and Torre San Giovanni.

Where to eat in Casarano

Do you want to know where to eat well in Casarano?

There is no shortage of restaurants, trattorias, taverns, pizzerias and inns in this beautiful village to enjoy the excellent Salento cuisine. If you don’t know what to eat in Casarano, simply rely on our advice and you will be able to try some of the best places and let yourself be delighted by the good food. Here are a few suggestions for you:

  • Trattoria Su Casteddhru
  • Osteria Nonna Cia
  • Le Locande Di Totó
  • Cadillac Restaurant & Pizza
  • 1000 Misture

Colonna di San Giovanni Elemosiniere


If you are staying in Casarano or just visiting, you can still explore the surroundings: sea, beaches, towns and villages, you will have no time to get bored. Here is what to see around Casarano:

  • Ruffano 9 km away;
  • Matino 5 km away;
  • Parabita 6,8 km away;
  • Gallipoli 19 km away;
  • Torre San Giovanni 17 km away;
  • Presicce 16 km away;
  • Lecce 56 km away;
  • Specchia 17 km away;
  • Tuglie and Montegrappa 13 km away.

Are you looking for a structure in Salento? Browse our categories!

Team HDSalento

Team HDSalento

Articles by the HDSalento team

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