Naples, perched on Florida’s Paradise Coast, invites visitors to enjoy a taste of the high life. World renowned for its upscale trappings, including high-end retailers and hotels, the city named after one of Italy’s finest also boasts a thriving arts scene. No doubt posh, the upscale performing arts and cultural offerings throughout Naples can make anyone feel like royalty.
“Naples has rapidly grown into a cosmopolitan hot spot,” said Scott McCormish, president of ExploreNaples.com. “The arts industry here is every bit as important to tourism as the world-class shopping, hotels and fine dining that people can enjoy when visiting the city.”
Here are a few exciting highlights to enjoy in the jewel of Collier County:
While shopping is a major pastime for locals and visitors in the bustling Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South shopping districts, a notable niche has been carved out for those who enjoy the visual arts.
The shops and restaurants along Fifth Avenue South. Elena Prostova
Gallery Row in downtown Naples is a connoisseur’s dream, boasting a strong concentration of the city’s 100-plus galleries. Located at Broad Street South and Third Street South, Gallery Row is a perfect place to spend an afternoon enjoying one amazing collection after another.
Noteworthy galleries include Native Visions Gallery and Shaw Gallery, both offering historic and contemporary art from notable international and American artists.
In Pelican Bay, in the city’s northern section, sits a glittering figure of arts in the city. For more than 22 seasons, The Philharmonic Center for the Arts has been a mainstay of the Naples cultural scene, offering performances in theater, dance and classical and popular music.
Nestled around the two sculpture gardens, the Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex houses Hayes Hall (a 1,425-seat theater) and the Naples Museum of Art, as well as a black-box theater (a simple, unadorned performance space) and four art galleries. At various times throughout the year, the center hosts the Miami City Ballet, Philharmonic Center Chorale and various youth groups.
“The Phil,” as it is referred to by locals, is also the home of the Grammy-nominated Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. The internationally renowned group has performed with some of classical music’s greats, including Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Kiri Te Kanawa. The Philharmonic Youth Orchestra also performs here several times each season.
The Baker Museum, formerly known as the Naples Museum of Art, is located on the grounds of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. It features a collection of more than 300 paintings and drawings by American masters and one of the largest collections of 20th-century Mexican art in the Southeast. It hosts countless traveling exhibitions as well.
With more than 30,000 square feet of space on three floors, this massive museum serves as a symbol of the high caliber of art appreciation in Naples. Recent exhibitions have included the works of artists Andrew Wyeth, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Helen Frankenthaler.
The Naples Art Association at the Von Liebig Art Center in downtown Naples, is dedicated to promoting and advancing education, interest and participation in the contemporary visual arts. It holds various festivals and exhibitions throughout the year.
Naples' Village on Venetian Bay. Elena Prostova
The art of antiquing has exploded as a pastime in recent years. Whether you’re looking for a piece from a specific period or just browsing, Naples offers exciting options. The epicenter of the Naples Antique district can be found at Central Avenue and 10th Street.
In The Plaza on Third Street South, you’ll find The Englishman, which offers fine antique art and furniture from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these shops are known around the world and special events are held frequently. Among the many other shops worth visiting is Auctions Neapolitan.
If escaping to the Paradise Coast is high on your list of priorities, Naples can provide an enriching experience in the arts set in a lively, sophisticated city.