Mid February 2024 me and my family had a great time travelling around the heel of the boot of Italy: the southern part of Puglia. Every now and then I had the chance to also step into the footsteps of Kurt Hielscher and try to rephotograph some of his photos. We visited Bari, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Otranto, Lecce, the Grotta della Poesia, a field with dolmens, Gallipoli, Taranto and a small piece of Basilicata with a great highlight: Matera about which I will make a separate subpage on the website. 


Though I am not sponsored by an airlinecompany, the first glimp I got from of Bari had to be photographed, with new adventures to come and we started here, with a lunch. After a rainshower and lunch, we explored the charming city, bought our first piece of very old Parmigiano cheese we really love. Every other day, we bought a new one. We ended our stroll at the impressive around 1132 built Castello Normanno-Svevo where Kurt Hielscher made his photo, probably from a rooftop I didn't find access to. Maybe, a new building was put in place in the meantime?

Castello Normanno-Svevo di Bari, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Castello Normanno-Svevo di Bari, the 11th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar. 

Around the castle

We parked just behind the fishmarket at Oarking Interlanza, where we immediately found an empty parking lot on arrival. We were lucky I gues because it was the only one.

There was not so much merchandise at the fish market, only one stall, but with a huge polpo. Then passing the Teatro Margherita up to the city center when it started to rain and we found a nice restaurant for a terrific lunch in the corner of Piazza Mercantile.

Bari is also the city where the remains of Sinterklaas , as we know San Nicola the bishop of Myra, in The Netherlands found their final resting place after his death in 324 AD.

The inauguration of the Basilica di San Nicola took place in 1197.

Sinterklaas as souvenir but one can also find him at several street scenes in small chapels.

Street art.

Polignano a mare 

From Bari, we went to a very nice appartment in Polignano a Mare and stayed there for two nights. Here I am working on it............ well, it turned out that Kurt Hielscher made his photo from the balcony up on the right.

And here's the result:

Polignano a Mare, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Polignano a Mare, 13th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Polignano a Mare's coastline is a terrific playground for the kids.



Ofcourse we also had to visit the world famous UNESCO Heritage site Alberobello. It was a short and pleasant ride from Polignano a Mare. We felt so lucky wandering around without the crowds of the main season. Alberobello indeed is like a fairy tale. 

A street in Alberobello in 1925. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

Kurt Hielscher published four photos from Alberobello, two in his 1925 and another two in his 1939 edition. In Alberobello, there are so many Trulli, the characteristic houses with the conical roofs that I could only find one place on his photos: Parrocchia di Sant'Antonio da Padova-Chiesa a Trullo. 

Parrocchia di Sant'Antonio - Chiesa a Trullo, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

Parrocchia di Sant'Antonio - Chiesa a Trullo, 12th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

This church dates back only to 1927, I really was surprised by its young age. It wasn't even there during Kurt Hielscher's first visit to Alberobello in 1925. It is situated on the top of the Monti area, the poorer neighborhood to provide its inhabitants with an own church. Since 1910, when Alberobello was declared a national monument, it was forbidden to build anything other than a trullo in Monti, hence the style. Until the 1980s, the general view of the trullo as an expression of poverty and backwardness persisted, a view that led to the demolition of hundreds of trulli outside the monumental areas, in favor of the construction of 'modern' buildings. Whole neighborhoods, once built entirely in trulli, no longer exist today.

Inside the Parrocchia di Sant'Antonio and a statue in the garden of a diagonally opposite building from where Kurt Hielscher made his photo.

One of the plenty characteristic streets.

Alberobello, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Alberobello, 1924. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Four stunning photos if you'd ask me, at the other, maybe more quiet part of the city.

Trullo with number 29, 1925. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Since I knew one of the housenumbers on one of the 1925 photos, I asked around a littlebit. I was explained though that housenumbers changed over the years and that these houses need reconstruction works every now and then resulting in huge changes of the appearance of whole streets. I looked around a little but gave up and just enjoyed the sceneries.

My other family members strolling around Alberobello.


Two nights we stayed in the fabulous city center of Lecce, famous for its baroque churches, just around the corner of the Duomo. It was a really pleasant experience to hang around here for a full day and the weather was just perfect. We bought all-inclusive tickets for the most famous churches. Kurt Hielscher published only one photo from Lecce and it is from the 1695 baroque Basilica di Santa Croce with its stunning facade and impressive rose window.

Basilica di Santa Croce, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Basilica di Santa Croce, 14th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Inside the Basilica di Santa Croce

The Basilica di Sante Croce in Lecce as seen from the Campanile del Duomo from 600 meters and the see from some 13 kilometers distance.

The Roman Amphitheater in Lecce

My lovely family enjoying the sunset from the Campanile del Duomo.

View from our appartment in Lecce into the Via Giuseppe Libertini around the corner of the Duomo just after sunset. 

From Lecce via the coastline to Gallipoli

Grotta della Poesia

View on the mountains of Albania where the Ionic meets Adriatic sea.


I massi della vecchia 

I massi della vecchia, the boulders of the old woman, situated in between Minervino di Lecce, Giuggianello and Palmariggi. One can see little changes to the rocks, but I also like the electricity pole and the cultivated farmland that subtly betrays the chaniging of times.

I massi della vecchia, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

I massi della vecchia, 15th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Never expected to find this place, but it turned out a pleasant surprise. When we left Lecce to explore the coastline first in the east at Otranto and then at the other side of Puglia, I could have chosen plenty of other sides with dolmens or menhirs. While preparing with Google Maps, I only found one photo with a rock that looked like the one on Kurt Hielscher's photo, but there were also a lot of other photos from other rocks on the same spot. I decided to propose a small detour around the middle of nowhere leaving Otranto for less than half an hour and my family approved. We had a great time and stayed quite a while. The boys could play and I could make nice photographs during golden hour, though the olive trees in the surroundings were hit by a terrible disease due to the severe Xylella bacteria over the past few years, a saddening sight one can see almost everywhere in the surroundings of Lecce.

We ended the day just after sunset in Gallipoli where we would stay for two nights and had a great time too. Kurt Hielscher did not publish any photos from Gallipoli, but I think he could and maybe even should have, because to me Gallipoli is another real gem here in Puglia.


View on Gallipoli from the Spiaggia di Punta Pizzo, some 7 kilometers distance. Though Kurt Hielscher did not publish any photos from Gallipoli, I'd like to share some photos because we had a great time here.

Fisherman preparing their nets in the old harbour in the morning. Look at the clarity of the water!

In the afternoon, we went for a swim at the Spiaggia della Purità, less than 100 meters away from our apartment.

Isola del Campo seen from Spiaggia della Purità, the city beach in Gallipoli.


The last stop we made in Puglia was in Taranto on our way to Matera. I planned to stop at a parking lot near the bridge but it turned out the wrong bridge of the two bridges that connect the Centro Storico of Taranto on an island with the mainland. We used that stop at the Ponte di Porta Napoli (Ponte di pietra) for lunch, but had to jump in the car again to the other bridge, the Ponte San Francesco di Paola, where we did find the 1487-1492 built Castello. A fence on the bridge made me to photograph with my arm reached out high, a little higher than Kurt Hielscher's standpoint, so I am sure the fence wasn't there in his time with a little difference as a consequence in between both photos. We had a nice short stroll along the Corso Due Mari enjoying the views, the vibe, the early spring sun and the boys their daily gelato and Kim and I our cappuccino's. Ofcourse I will make a subpage on the website about Puglia later and add these views of Taranto to it, but I'll already put some photos in the comment section bel

Castello Aragonese, Taranto, 1939. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Castello Aragonese, Taranto, 17th of February 2024. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Lunch in Taranto

Below: View on the Castle of Tarento.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher