Naples & New Towns
Since we have made Naples, Florida, our winter residence, I have often pondered the question: Why is there a Naples? God could have provided many places for those fleeing the twin curses of cold and taxes, but in his infinite wisdom he provided them with Naples. Having devoted many hours in the pool to this question, I came up with the answer: Naples is God’s way of teaching humility to the rich. It does this in two ways: First, if you live in Naples, no matter how rich you are, there is always someone richer. Second, Naples demonstrates that money does not buy good taste.
As I have no chance of being on the Fortune 500 list, I am untroubled by the first rebuke that God gives to the Naples rich. The ups and downs of the stock market mean that someone who was worth $1.2 billion two years ago is now worth only $600 million, and the mere $750 millionaire who socked his money away in government bonds now outranks him. Sic transit and all that. How fleeting is the glory of wealth, especially when the stock market is doing a prolonged nosedive.
As for the second rebuke, Naples has a taste for “Mediterranean” architecture. This style is based upon impressions of Caesar’s Palace—the one in Las Vegas, that is. The Romans went in for vulgarity, God bless them, but even they would be puzzled by the variations on classical architecture that are dreamed up by Midwesterners after two or three margaritas.
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Leon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in Old English and Old Icelandic from the University of Virginia and is a senior editor of Touchstone. His latest book is Losing the Good Portion: Why Men Are Alienated from Christianity (St. Augustine's Press, 2020). He and his wife Mary (author of the Touchstone column "A Thousand Words") are the parents of six children. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
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