TRAVEL

The Best Way To Spend Two Days In Naples, Florida

This article originally appeared in Forbes Travel, February 2018.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC

There’s no better place for a weekend recharge than the shores of Southwest Florida, an everglade oasis where traffic is defined as three golf carts waiting to tee off. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that one of the best addresses for a weekender in this corner of the Sunshine State is The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star stay-and-play stunner. Once you check into your Club Level room, you’ll see exactly what we mean.

Day One
Start your adventure by heading down to Third Street South in historic Old Naples, the original enclave of the 1930s town. The palm-tree-lined road is an elegant shopping area with great boutiques, one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and art galleries.

If you start to get hungry during your perusing, you’re in luck. For at least three blocks, this quaint avenue has a lineup of street-side restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating. We highly recommend stopping by Sea Salt, a seafood-centric trattoria from chef Fabrizio Aielli. The Italian toque stocks his restaurant with more than 100 different types of salt and offers a fusion menu (with a bent toward his native Venice) featuring innovative delicacies such as crispy octopus in a black bean pear sauce, ravioli stuffed with braised veal and salt-encrusted branzino.

The Greens From Your Gorgeous Room. Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC

After lunch, stroll this historic street to find a few souvenirs. Fashionistas know that Marissa is always the first stop. The gorgeous corner boutique is Southwest Florida’s hub for designer favorites as well as edgier labels, including MSGM, Derek Lam and jewelry designer BiBi van der Velden. For the home, browse Gattle’s, a 110-year-old emporium of luxury linens, fabulous flatware and lavish lingerie. 

Beachcombers will love Old Naples Surf Shop, where boards are king and all things beach can be found. On Saturday mornings, the back parking lot turns into the Third Street South Farmer’s Market, an open-air forum of vendors selling tropical fruit and citrus, freshly caught seafood, coffee, dog treats and more.

When you’re ready for your first Southwest Florida sunset, head back to the Golf Resort and hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle for a 10-minutes-in-traffic drive to . The Five-Star seaside sister hotel sits on 20 beachfront acres and is surrounded by palm trees. 

Take a walk through the garden to the beach for the sunset and then grab a table at Dusk, the luxury property’s chic sushi restaurant, where craft cocktails are served with creative hand rolls. Shuttle back in time for a nightcap on the 18th hole at the Golf Resort’s Bella Vista Lounge.

High Tee. Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC

Day Two
After a great night’s sleep in your Club Level room overlooking the links, swing by the exclusive Club Lounge for complimentary coffee and a quick bite before making your way down to the greens — it’s finally tee time at the resort’s acclaimed Tiburón Golf Club.

Play 18 in a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Yes, the two tropical courses here are also a nature reserve, so expect to find protected flora and fauna along the holes.

If you’re not up for a full round, simply spend the morning polishing your swing at Tiburon’s Impact Zone Golf Academy.

And If the fairway isn’t your idea of fun, opt to rally with a USPTA-certified tennis instructor on the property’s four Har-Tru courts.

The beauty of Naples is that you are so close to mangroves, lakes and a slew of natural parks. Spend your afternoon with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and sign up for a free nature walk to find turtles, snakes and manatees or take an eco-cruise down the Gordon River.

Kayaking in Naples. Credit: Erica Firpo

Get a closer look at the region’s abundant wildlife with a guided tour by water through Wiggin’s Pass with Naples Kayak Company.

Following your afternoon of activity, indulge in some serious seafood. Snag a river-facing table at The Bay House, a gorgeous veranda restaurant on the nearby Cocohatchee River at Walkerbilt Road. The nautically themed eatery offers true hometown hospitality — a wooden rowboat hangs over the Claw Bar, where local bands play live sets Wednesday through Saturday and walls of windows give you a glimpse of neighborhood trawlers floating by.

Chef Jamie Knapp celebrates Southern cuisine and seafood with his seasonally curated menu of favorites like Charleston carpet bagger steak with bayou remoulade and St. Augustine stew practically overflowing with the day’s fresh catch. The Claw Bar features some of the best crustaceans Southern Florida has to offer.

If you have any energy for a nightcap, make the breezy 20-minute drive from The Bay House down to Truluck’s at Four-Star Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites. The stylishly casual eatery has an intimate piano bar that’s just the place for an evening toast and a reflective chat on all that you’ve discovered over your Naples weekend.

@TheRabbitProject in Wired Italia

~ this article originally appeared in Wired Italia on April 17, 2015 ~

The Rabbit Project

Il coniglio è l’animale fifone per eccellenza e tutti ogni tanto lo siamo: se vuoi farti conigliare, con una maschera è più facile mostrare quel lato al mondo

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall ~ Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick, 1967)

Da un bel po’ di tempo, mi trovavo in piena notte, viso illuminato dal mio iPhone mentre stavo ricorrendo il bianconiglio. Alice non lo sono mai stata. Invece sono stata a caccia di un profilo di Instagram @therabbitproject che comprende solo dei ritratti di persone mascherate da coniglio. Più da lepre che da coniglio, la maschera è un po paurosa e riesce a nascondere e trasmettere personalità nello stesso momento. Infatti, ho notato quando cliccavo su e giù, che la maschera riesce a dare un aspetto nuovo ad ogni soggetto. Ma chi è questo coniglio?  Ero fissata, dovevo trovarlo e finalmente ho scovato il bianconiglio a Milano…

The Rabbit Project

Che cos’è TheRabbitProject? Di che cosa si tratta? Il progetto nasce a giugno 2014 per scherzo tra quattro amici e colleghi col pallino per i social e la fotografia: Antonio TardioMichele NicolettiGabriele Infranca e Alessandro Timpanaro – questi ultimi anche fondatori del sito Collater.al, un collettivo di creativi e appassionati di cultura della comunicazione.

“Decidiamo di acquistare una maschera per un compleanno e scattiamo le prime quattro fotografie durante una pausa pranzo. Tornati in studio decidiamo subito di creare un profilo Instagram, un Tumblr e una pagina Facebook del progetto”, raccontano.

The Rabbit Project

Se dovreste descrivere la personalità del coniglio, direste che si appropria di quella della persona in maschera? O la trasforma?

“L’idea è quella di giocare con l’idea di identità sul web, sull’alter ego, sul raddoppiamento e la realtà virtuale che ci consentono di entrare in rapporto ed in rapporti nuovi con personalità diverse e con diversi aspetti della nostra personalità”.

Una personalità che quindi diventa multipla, ibrida, creativa.

“Nel progetto siamo tutti conigli, indossiamo tutti la stessa maschera, ma siamo tutti diversi, la interpretiamo le facciamo assumere espressioni differenti. Tra Pirandello e web 2.0. Un monologo a più voci. Potremmo continuare a sproloquiare per ore su tutto questo…”

The Rabbit Project

Per pura coincidenza, il primo post del Rabbit Project è il giorno del mio compleanno: taggato con #weeklyfluff, sembra che il profilo sia iniziato come un gioco. Ancora lo è? C’è un motivo, un obiettivo, uno scopo?

“È iniziato tutto per gioco, un po’ ancora lo è e lo sarà per sempre. Non abbiamo un obiettivo preciso, ma stiamo vagliando qualche opportunità per dare anche un volto più commerciale al progetto”.

Su Instagram ho visto maschere di unicorni, volpi, orsi… Come mai avete scelto un coniglio? È un mascotte di Collater.al?

“No, non è una mascotte, è più un modo di essere, il coniglio è per eccellenza l’animale fifone, e tutti ogni tanto (o spesso) lo siamo. Abbiamo sentito il bisogno di mostrarlo al mondo quel lato, anche se coperto da una maschera”.

L’abbiamo visto a Milano, Venezia, Messina…. Il rabbit ha mai viaggiato fuori dall’Italia?

“Abbiamo uno scatto realizzato a Rio de Janeiro, ma di sicuro ci piacerebbe vederlo in pianta stabile in America: lo immaginiamo scattato a Dumbo a NYC, sulle spiagge di Los Angeles, o con Elvis a Las Vegas”.

The Rabbit Project

Oltre ad un Instameet, come si può fare parte del progetto?

“Basta contattarci singolarmente o via mail. A Milano e in Sicilia è più facile, ma noi viaggiamo spesso e in valigia ce lo portiamo sempre”.

Zio Ziegler, from English to Italian and back

In the hands of @zioziegler. A serendipitous afternoon- I met up with the incredibly prolific Zio as he gets ready for his show in #Milan. I still can't believe how much he reads- suggest a book, he's looking for more

A photo posted by Erica Firpo (@ericafirpo) on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:35pm PDT

About a month ago, Wired Italia published an interview I wrote with Zio Ziegler, 20-something artist and wonder boy.  I conducted the interview in English, wrote it up and then had the not-so-pleasant pleasure of translating it into Italian. It threw my mind, wrapped me around a tree and made me question how many personalities I really have.  Writing in Italian is one thing, re-writing your voice in Italian is a whole other ball game.

For those who didn't really read the interview in Italian, here's my original English language piece.

The Raw Economics of Art

San Francisco, Milan, Tokyo, New York, London, San Francisco, Parma.   Somewhere along this zig-zagging voyage, I meet up with artist Zio (yes, that is his birth name) Ziegler, Californian, class of 1988.  Ziegler is the latest evolution of those Bay Area baby geniuses who mixes canvases and concrete walls with art galleries, venture capitals and start-ups.

He’s been dubbed a prodigy for his propensity to produce.  His work is totemic and visceral, figurative and abstract, painterly and street, all rolled into large scale murals and sought-after canvas paintings.  When he’s not painting, he’s reading and writing, or drawing, whether in his head, on a napkin or on the bike trail, leading him to a broad range of collaborations, natural for a kid born and raised in the Bay Area.

I am get exhausted just looking at his Twitter and Instagram feeds. You can imagine how it feels to talk to him. When I caught up with Zio in Milan, he was finishing up a series of projects including a one-man show at Antonio Colombo Gallery, a wall mural at the Repubblica metro stop and the monumental front entrance of the Cinelli bike manufacturing company outside of Milan.  To paraphrase Ziegler’s own words about artists Julian Schnabel,  “the kid can’t be pinned down”.

On Painting

Ziegler’s been painting since he was old enough to hold a pencil, encouraged by parents who wanted him to ‘be the best’ at whatever he wanted. Though his high school and university (Brown/RISD) experience may not have been as encouraging, Ziegler has foraged a career based on instinct and acumen.

ZZ: I never understood while I was painting, for many years. I'd kind of, try to rationalize how those painting works, but it was more visceral than anything else. . . All of a sudden, the idea comes after the painting. Sometimes I'll have a dream about a painting but otherwise, it starts with gestures and lines and then all of a sudden it has to work, it's like a visual anomaly that I'm trying to solve.  Paintings are like Rorschach tests in a way.  It's sort the filtration process of the mind. There's no boundary between the mind and the canvas.

Painting is all about new materials, it has to be new and fresh and conceptual. I am so, not against conceptual work, but I'm against dull painting. I want life. I want beauty. I want something that pays homage to the past and builds on top and has a dialogue and honesty. On California and Shifting Frontiers

Digital gold fever is still raging in California, leading many to feel that the West is the place for creative, in particular artists who no longer need abide by gallery and critic limitations.

ZZ:   I had this sort of theory that the West Coast is ever evolving because it's at this sort of geographic point where people said, the frontier is always evolving, it's always being pushed and I think right now I think there's this big paradigm shift taking place in art where it has to be both. The printing press was sort of reinvented with the phone.

[San Francisco/West Coast] is a world where digital realities and life blend, where one can image a reality and turn thought into substance. The west has always embodied possibility, opportunity, the ability to discover or create anything in order to survive and adapt. It’s a place that inspires man to constantly break past the pre existing van guard. Maybe because of its geographic location, or its distance from European influence, or it's combination of urban and natural so harmoniously blended, but it seems to be a place that preserves the searching spirit.

On Collaboration

Ziegler was born with enough of the so-called wild west impetus in him to reach out to companies leading to brand collaborations with Pottery Barn, Stance Socks, Vans, Cinelli Bicycles, and Urban Outfitters.

ZZ:  It’s the raw economics of art. With the accessibility now of art via the phone, I think it's very important for an artist to accommodate this sort of adjustment in the economic system. I don't think it's selling out to work with Vans or these companies because selling out doesn't exist anymore. Selling out is an internal sort of dialogue. It's not an external one. It's the artist's role to engage in the same way Rafael did with birthday parties and cakes and whatever. It's the artist's role to answer to humanity rather than art history, I think, right now.

On Technology

Like everyone else, Ziegler embraces technology while at the same time wanting to kick out of the door.

ZZ: There seems to be such a growing dependence on technology, and I think the only thing that will bring independence back to our lives free of the grid will be analog experiences. The hyper awareness of the grid means that it seems as though everyone else is always doing something more interesting than you, the world is moving so fast that its hard to get a grasp on a value system or a perspective of what you want and how you want to live, The zeitgeist now seems curated through what you choose to expose yourself to on Social Media- we are all choosing our poisons or choosing which content will feel as though we are not enough.

If I wake up, and look at the internet, my day becomes relative. It exists next to the curated lives of others, and there is this sort of dependence on living better, or on being smarter and achieving more in order to keep up with the pace of the world. It's breeding a mobile bovarism. It's the double edged sword of the new printing press.

The Future

ZZ: I'm interested in the world of the artist now as the most relevant in the world. Like what does that take? I think it takes a lot of vertical integration. It's like your paintings are the inspiration for everything else. I want to write TV shows and produce them about authenticity. I want to write books and develop hotels with the art . . I like this idea to have the artist taking on all these different roles now, you know?

I love painting. I love the work, I love the process, but I need to keep myself, I'm never satisfied with the work that I'm making. I think in order to be the greatest, you have to know, you can want it, but you're never going to touch it. You're never going to be the greatest, there's no end point. The path is the goal. You constantly touch it and it leaves. Some of these paintings have touched, it's the best painting I've made and then the next day I need a greater one. I think it's the same thing with that. It's like a Sisyphusian sort of process.  With me, that's just what keeps the fire under my ass.

Zio Ziegler, The Desent, 2014, mixed media on canvas, 152,4x213,4 cm
Zio Ziegler, The Desent, 2014, mixed media on canvas, 152,4x213,4 cm