We left Apalachicola and headed East on Highway 98. Hoping to find a quaint place for breakfast, the minutes – and then the hours – ticked by, with no sign of a restaurant anywhere. If you want to fall off the radar and live somewhere d-e-s-o-l-a-t-e, head to that section of Florida. I can’t tell you how happy I was when we finally made it to US 19, because I knew there would soon be signs of life. If you are planning a road trip in Florida, take my advice and avoid the whole section between Apalachicola and Crystal River. (But don’t miss the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs in Crystal River … it’s a kitchy, old-fashioned attraction that’s been there for decades.)
On our way to Naples, we took a few detours: Siesta Key (nice beach), St. Armand’s Circle (great shopping), and Venice Beach (yummy sushi place downtown). All nice places to visit, but I couldn’t imagine living there. I started to wonder why so many places in Florida were named after cities in Italy. Late in the afternoon, we arrived at the Inn on Fifth, a beautiful boutique hotel right in downtown Naples. After checking in, we took a walk down to the beach.
Naples is beautiful, and one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. Supposedly, it got its name because the mild climate and abundant wildlife likened it to the sunny peninsula in Italy. It is renowned for its culture, world-class shopping and fine dining. But off season, it is a ghost town. Other than a few foreign tourists on the narrow beach, there was hardly anyone around. We tried not to stare at a South American family lolling right at the water’s edge, fully clothed yet running in and out of the water anyway. Grown-ups, not kids.
We strolled back to 5th Avenue and looked for someplace interesting to have a drink, and ended up at L’Angolo 5th Ave. For some reason, no matter where we go, we always seem to end up in an Italian restaurant!
We chatted with the owner as he poured our wine. We asked how he liked Naples, and he told us it had been very good to him. He said he wouldn’t have had the same opportunity to succeed back in his home town, Rome. His mother ran the kitchen, and he called her out to say hello. She didn’t speak a word of English, so she just smiled and nodded at us. We smiled and nodded back. We decided to stay for dinner and asked for the house specialty, and were presented with a beautiful insalata di rucola (arugula salad with shaved parmesan and tomatoes), followed by tagliolini al nero di seppia (black squid ink pasta tossed with shrimp, calamari, tomatoes and parmesan. It was delicious!
We left Naples thinking that maybe we should come back again for a second visit, during the season. Thanks to L’Angolo, it managed to make “the list.” 🙂
Did you miss Part I? No worries…. here it is!