Scenically positioned in the Salento mountain chain, the Madonna della Campana church rose as the votive offering of a sailor whose life, according to tradition, was saved by the Madonna. Although its origins are uncertain, the original nucleus might be Medieval: there is in fact an item in the records of the Anjou chancery from 1308 that speaks of a church named “Santa Maria de Casarano,” which may refer to this house of worship. In 1639, it was rebuilt at the impetus of the feudal lord Matteo D’Aquino.
The soaring, sober façade is marked by the presence of a simple portal and window; inside is a single nave, with a triumphal arch separating the presbytery from the rest of the nave. The high altar bears the date 1692, but is attributed to Giovanni Donato Chiarello of Copertino; it was made in 1656, when the artist was also busy with the Matrice di Casarano church. Set into the altar, in a rayed icon, is the fresco on stone of the Madonna with Child, a monolith involving another miracle: the discovery of the holy effigy in an ancient farmhouse. Frescoed at the top of the back wall is a Trinity with the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and a row of saints and faithful, signed “frate Honofrio 1679.” The altar to the left of the high altar holds the painting of Saint Anthony of Padua, recently attributed by scholar Stefano Tanisi to the monk Angelo da Copertino (1600); this attribution confirms yet again that the workers engaged during those years at the Mother Church of Casarano were able to carry out work at this site as well.
Placed in front of the altar of Saint Anthony is the altar of the Crucifix, of which only the mensa remains, topped by a trompe-l’oeil fresco. Here, the only colours are reserved for the central box, where the Crucifix, St. John the Evangelist, the Virgin, and the two figures of saints – St. Nicholas and St. Vitus (late seventeenth century) – appear; all the rest is monochromatic, as are the ornaments on the sides. Lastly, near the entrance are the altar with the painting of St. Blaise (1903) and the altar with the painting of Mary Desolate (early twentieth century). The inhabitants of Casarano had the custom of walking up a monumental stairway, still in existence today, with a number of aedicules along the way depicting the Stations of the Cross.