Fifth Avenue South is Naples' signature shopping venue — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
In the spirit of its Italian namesake, Naples underwent a sort of renaissance in the 1990s that included a highly successful urban renewal project on Fifth Avenue South, led by respected New Urbanism city planner Andres Duany of Miami. It immediately turned a sleepy, headed-for-downtrodden downtown into a vibrant area where people live, work, shop, dine and party.
Fifth Avenue South is the heart of Naples' downtown and defines the town as a sophisticated destination that loves to eat and have fun. The street starts at its intersection with Tamiami Trail (Highway 41) and ends at the beach, like an artery that connects Naples' two somewhat disparate personalities - dress-up and kick-back.
With the exception of the Chico's brand - a Florida-born chain - and its subsidiaries, White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper, Fifth Avenue South shops are mostly one-of-a-kind and owner-operated establishments.
Reflecting the town's wealth and vibrant arts temperament, the avenue holds a preponderance of jewelry stores and art galleries. One of the most highly distinguished, Port Royal Jewelers, requires entrance by buzz-in to view its line of estate and antique bling.
In the art gallery department, Gallery One is probably most indicative of the Naples art scene, which has always been as glassy as classy. Fine art glass works, taking the lead of the Naples Art Museum's stunning Chihuly pieces, are somewhat signature, and this gallery showcases it along with every other art media.
Appealing to the style-conscious clientele of Naples, a number of shops caters to wearable fashion, most of it in a resort elegance vein. Gift shops range from spendy beach decor trinkets at FantaSea and pet indulgences at Pucci & Catana to the whimsy of Regatta and fine papers at Arabesque.