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A personal view

Graceful living natural wonder by Ashley Gibbins

The facts When to go

Everyone in downtown Naples seems to start their day at the 5th Avenue Coffee Company.

Workers grabbing a coffee, a bagel and a 'hi' before heading off to work will happily mingle with active seniors still minded to put the world to rights; cyclists and power walkers making pit stops and moms, with toddlers in tow, sharing tips and parenting chores.

Very hairy, very courteous, Harley owners will park up and talk bikes and students use the place as an Internet free study centre. And then there's me, annoying all of them with questions about Naples lure as a visitor destination.

You’re more than welcome

Frank, a snowbird fleeing the severe winter months in the northern States got it about right. "You're more than welcome to come and stay a while, enjoy what we enjoy here - but it's OK if you don't"

And that's it. Naples is a real community - an undoubtedly prosperous community (more dollar millionaires than Beverly Hills), which takes pride in its appearance and real pleasure in the finer things in life.

Which is? Well a climate to die for - or rather live into healthy old age for – during nine months of the year (avoid the heat and humidity from June through August).

Then there's the location beside the gleaming white beaches and clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As for Naples itself, the immaculately maintained downtown district (clustered around 5th Avenue South and 3rd Avenue South), is a veritable 'film set' of art deco style buildings on palm-lined avenues.

These house designer shops, galleries and a whole host of bars and fine dining restaurants. Naples also enjoys a thriving arts and culture scene that places many times larger would be proud of.

Finally, Naples is a great base for trips along the Gulf Coast and to the Florida Everglades.

Florida is a genuine year round destination although Southwest Florida between June and September can be very hot and humid with a high chance of very heavy rain in late afternoon.

This period is also mosquito season for those looking to visit to the Everglades.

Florida's hurricane season runs from 1 June to 30 November.

How to get there

By air Southwest Florida International Airport is about 30 minutes drive from Naples.

International visitors will probably choose to fly into Miami International or Orlando International.

By road

Interstates 4 and 75 will get you to Naples from Orlando in about five hours and Interstates 95 /75 from Miami in about two hours.

Car rental

All major car rental companies operate in Florida.

I try to travel with Dollar, which has complete line of vehicles at competitive rates and always provides a cracking service. 2

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