Saturday, October 25, 2014


We were a half hour late boarding the plan in Milwaukee for Ft. Meyers. Wheelchairs and dementia ran rampant at the gate. The bottleneck of tennis ball toed walkers and rail-thin blue hairs waving tickets in the air wanting early access tried the patience of our gate attendant as she tried desperately to line us over sixties into our numerically assigned boarding positions. It was a flight full of retirees headed down to their winter nests at the beginning of golf cart season.
We were on our way to help one of our neither geriatric nor addled clients to open up her house for the season.
Their house is a project Rick has worked on for a number of years starting by working with the architect and then helping out each season as a fresh coat is laid out over the existing dust of the past warmer months of its dormancy. The house is now like a hibernating animal in a seasonal reversal, yawning off the summer and coming out of its den to a winter energized and ready for the new season.
Located at the end of the intercostal where dolphins are known to stop and play in the waters off the backyard, the house sits in an area known for mansions and quiet wealth.
Homes of distinction line both sides of a narrow street in the historic area known as Port Royal.
The area speaks of a time lost to newer generations. The pace of the waterside community and its purpose are to slow things down, not speed them up. Travel is more typical by golf cart than by car.
On our first night out we dined on a perfect light menu only to return to the beaconing water's edge the following midday for a lunch on the beach.
The white sand beaches of Naples stretch around the shore line littering the sand with an unimaginable number of tiny white shells
and microscopic aquatic life providing the perfect lunch for the birds that appear to own the surf.
For the uninitiated there are discrete little walkways providing access to the white sand shores that anyone can travel.
The shores aren't owned by the mansions that backup against the dunes separating their manicured lawns from the multiple shades of blue water and sky. Anyone can sink their toes into the wet white sand and stroll for miles along the water's edge.
Like a Medieval state steeped in tradition the homes of Naples grow grander and grander as they approach the water.
As a kid I loved the Dr. Seuss book, "Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats".
For you six-year-olds not into fashion it is the story of a young Bartholomew who is unable to take his hat off when the king passes by.
Every time he doffs his hat or has it chopped off by one of the King's henchmen another appears more grander than the one that preceded it.
The homes of Naples seem no different with each house looking to out do the next as they each approach the gulf.
Along with the grandeur I was astounded by the amount of new construction and the, in several cases, demise of some of the older Naples' bungalows as they were torn down to make room for the larger estates, bigger isn't always better.
Some of the sweetest homes we saw were a bit more modest and some were renovations saving the history of the local architectural heritage.
The shopping areas along Fifth Avenue and in Old Naples seemed more vibrant at night than during the day.
It might have something to do with the weather, the heat of the day tends to keep people inside or at the beach.
At night the outdoor restaurants pull their chairs from on top of the tables
and millions of tiny white lights wrap themselves around coconut palms and hang like miniature planets from the limbs of banyan trees.
The shopping is as eclectic as the people walking the jeweled streets of Old Town Naples.
Exotic drinks are served inside a bar guarded by a crocodile.
High-end children's clothing waits inside an open door
while leopard print schmattas are for sale inside Kay's on the Beach.
Art spans the gamut from exclusive to souvenir
and many of the couture designers have set up shop from Michael Kors and Kate Spade to Tommy Bahama.
Even bits of Wisconsin can show up on the avenues of Naples where Oh My Gauze announces shops in Florida and Lake Geneva
and Aaron Rodgers motto is plastered on the sides of historic Old Town.
Luxury is the staple of Naples where even the koi seem to wear golden silk kimonos and everyone who comes wants a piece of it. We were so fortunate to have been treated to a dream.

Wave of the Future, 1948
Toni Frissell, photographer
Available through the National Archives

1 comment:

  1. The only place I want to move into is that modest white historic bungalow. But I'd be happy for a dinner invite to the others