Temporary immersion in contrasts with a daily routine – in food, climate, lifestyle or culture – is a large part of travel’s allure. For Kate Caputo, embracing contrasts has been an everyday affair. The Harvard astrophysicist uses her hardcore data analytics skills in the creative world of cosmetics. An NYC banker, she pivoted to the start-up world of Silicon Alley. Growing up among sunny beaches, she opted for competitive figure skating in the cold. Here, Kate describes her favorite retreat from the mayhem of her adopted Manhattan: calm and elegant Naples.
The area around Naples is often referred to as Paradise Coast. The peaceful beauty of the beaches and relaxed pace of the picturesque city make it hard to leave my hometown whenever I go back.
- Eat: The best sea bass I have ever had was at USS Nemo’s. It is in a strip mall but as soon as you get there and are in its blue marine-themed space, you forget where you are. If you don’t like the dessert menu, Norman Love Confections is next door serving gelato and hand-painted chocolates. Naples has a number of great Italian places: Campiello on 3rd Street, Osteria Tulia on 5th Avenue and Barbatella for wood-fired pizza. I love Skillets for a Southern breakfast – there are a few locations around town. A picnic on one of the quieter beaches – Horizon Way or Seagate – is always a good idea. You can pick up snacks at the Saturday farmers’ market held on the corner of Airport and Vanderbilt or at Fresh Market.
- Shop: Waterside Shops has very high end stores – lots of Italian apparel and jewelry designers – in an upscale outdoor mall – the whole ambiance is elegant. The Village Shops on Venetian Bay has niche stores on the water and there is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor, which is a plus! Marissa Collections in a big, classic Floridan pink-and-white building in the Historic District is an amazing boutique to browse.
- Cocktail: D’Amico’s The Continental offers craft beers in beautiful outdoor seating while Tommy Bahama is fun for cocktails surrounded by tiki torches and overgrown flowers. Mercato has bunch of bars you can walk between, from the Pub, to dancing at Cavo or Blue Martini.
- Caffeinate: I am more of a “Confection” than a “Caffeinate” person, but good coffee appears at a lot of my favorite places for sweets! Mikklesen’s Pastry Shop is in the middle of nowhere, on Business Lane, but it has the best cakes and pastries well worth making the detour for. Kilwins is my go-to for ice cream – it’s so good. You can also get great coffee at Norman Love.
- Work Out: When I am home in the sunshine, I love to run on the boardwalk in Clam Pass Park. The Park has a kayak launch site so you can also canoe through the mangroves.
Another great boardwalk run that is close to nature is about 30 minutes outside the city in Corkscrew Swamp – it is filled with alligators, deer and turtles.
- Culture Up: Artis is the home of the Baker Museum, which showcases contemporary art, and of the Naples Philharmonic. There is also Gallery Row in downtown Naples. For the performing arts, Sugden Theater hosts productions by The Naples Players and I like to watch movies at Silverspot Cinema. There is a full bar and menu so you can enjoy dinner while sitting in comfortable leather recliners. Naples Botanical Garden is stunning and Naples Princess Cruises are touristy but super fun for views of sunset and fancy waterfront houses.
- Wind Down: A walk along Naples Pier at sunset is the perfect way to end the day calmly. You will inevitably see dolphins, there are stunning views of north and south Naples, and it’s not unusual to see rainbows over the water – even when there hasn’t been any rain.