Touch Casaranello

A project financed by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department of Youth and National Civil Service

“Touch Casaranello” is an 18-month-long project aimed at the promotion of the Church of Santa Maria della Croce, commonly known as “Casaranello”.
The activities organized by “Touch Casaranello” are supported by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department of Youth and National Civil Service. The project is leaded by the cultural association Archeocasarano “Origini e Futuro” in partnership with the association Domus Dei, situated in Ugento, and the Municipality of Casarano as external associate. ArcheoCasarano and Domus Dei constitute a temporary partnership supporting 20% of the project.
The entire project is dedicated to the Church of Santa Maria della Croce. This is a monument of extraordinary historic and artistic value, mostly renowned for its wall mosaic dating back to the 5th century a.D., a unique example of the late antique western tradition.
Despite its great historic and artistic value, the church used to be inadequately valued and it remained cut out of the touristic and cultural tours, also due to a lack of informative brochures, website and such. A monument fallen into disrepair, which today has come back to light thanks to the passion and responsible work of the association. In fact, “Touch Casaranello” means exactly the possibility to concretely enjoy the value of a monument known worldwide.

Project objectives:

  • Increment of the flux of tourists
  • Inclusion of the monument in the network of cultural tourism through advertisement on specialized magazines and participation to cultural tourism fairsPromotion of the monument via various communication channels (web and printed)
  • Realization of a website
  • Realization of informative material (brochures, guides, etc)
  • Organization of promotional events and inclusion of the youth in the organized activities
  • Realization of informative panels
  • Digitalization of documents about the Casaranello Church from the city historical archives
  • Organization of conferences
  • Organization of a literary contest “I write about Casaranello”, addressed to classes of students  present on the territory
  • Organization of two mosaic courses for kids and adults
  • Realization of a monograph dedicated to the church


The associations of the partnership


The cultural association ArcheoCasarano “Origins and future” was founded in Casarano on 25th October 2009 with the aim to protect, valorize and promote the historic, artistic and environmental treasures present on the territory.
The association also aims to arouse the interest of the citizens – particularly of youth and students – in the cultural heritage and the environment.
Archeocasarano includes 42 members who share a passion for history and the arts. The majority of its members are between twenty and thirty-five years of age. The group is leaded by a managing board composed by seven people, mostly women, which is elected every five years.
Always eager to provide its members with new opportunities for human and cultural enrichment, ArcheoCasarano organizes numerous initiatives such as excursions, book presentations, conferences, art exhibitions, concerts and theatre events. The association also applies to calls dedicated to the protection and promotion of the cultural heritage.
Since its foundation, Archeocasarano has been organizing a series of excursions aimed to the discovery of the Apulia territory, an initiative called “ArcheoDomeniche”.
Throughout the years, the association has organized several didactic trips: Rome and its sourroundings, Naples, Ercolano, Bari, Alberobello, Ostuni and Matera. In such trips great attention was paid to the archeological sites and the museums of Salento such as Ugento, Cavallino, Vaste, Roca Vecchia and Parabita. Thematic visits have also been paid to the Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in Galatina, the small church of Santo Stefano in Soleto, the Cathedral of Otranto, the historical centres of Gallipoli, Lecce and many other towns in Salento.
One of most important events organized by the association is the presentation of the stamp dedicated to the Church of Santa Maria della Croce, issued by the Ministry of Economic Development upon ArcheoCasarano’s initiative.
In June 2015 the event “Glance towards the East” launched a reflection about the archeological risk in the Middle East.
In 2012 the association organized the first series of conferences dedicated to “The church of Santa Maria della Croce, Casaranello – a memory to preserve, a treasure to valorize”.
The association works together with “Presidi del libro” in order to promote the reading among the youth and to support local emerging writers.
With the aim to bring the youth closer to the cultural heritage, the association participates in a youth apprenticeship program promoted by the Liceo Scientifico G.C. Vanini of Casarano. The students of the “Vanini” are an essential presence in all organized cultural activities.
Since 2010 the association has been organizing Summer Camps of Archeology dedicated to the youth between seven and thirteen years of age. The didactic activities are mostly focused on arts and history, always with a playful twist. Within this initiative ArcheoCasarano collaborates with the Social Services and various centers for disabled people in order to promote the social integration between the new generations.
Since summer 2015 and upon authorization of the Mayor, the association manages the gardens of the historical baronial Palace De Donatis, situated in the heart of the old town of Casarano, this way providing a place where the youth can meet.
Concerts, film discussions and exhibitions often take place in the palace. Among the most important events are to be mentioned the “National Book Day” and the Living nativity of Casarano.
In June 2015 the TV programme “Uno mattina estate” on national broadcast RAI UNO was guest of Palazzo De Donatis. Furthermore, the palace is always at free disposal of associations and schools, which are happy to use it.
In autumn 2014 the association was awarded a contribution by the Province of Lecce for the realization of the project “Extra-urban sacred places: promotion of the city from the suburbs to the centre”. Among the other activities of the project, it is worth mentioning the cleaning of some peripheral cultural sites, often victims of the uncaring attitude of the citizens.
The association also dedicates great attention and resources to research, financially supporting some initiatives. Among the most important ones we can recall the archeological survey of the medieval cemetery in Casarano and the geophysical survey realized in Casaranello. Some researchers of the University of Bologna realized some non invasive surveys of the late-antique subsoil of the church through the use of a geo-radar. Such prospection produced significant results and provided a basis for proper archeological surveys in the near future.


The cultural association Domus Dei was founded in 2003 and it works in the field of religious cultural heritage in the diocese of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca. It boasts the organization of numerous exhibitions and trainings ranging from frontal lessons to excursions. Furthermore, the association is in charge of the museum of the Basilica di Leuca and the diocesan museum of Ugento.
The association won some calls, among which the creation of the Voluntary Service Centre Salento and the call “Youth for the promotion of public goods” of the Ministry of Youth.