Kate Lough speaks to the ‘Chef de Magic’ behind Hotel Il Pellicano about her new ISSIMO store and her favourite spots near Monte Argentario
Not far from Rome on Italy’s west coast, there lies a wild and ruggedly beautiful peninsula that feels decidedly different from the rest of Tuscany: Monte Argentario. Often overlooked by the summer crowds in favour of the region’s rolling interior or the Amalfi Coast, it's one of the Roman it crowd’s best kept secrets. Hillsides dotted with pine trees, sandy beaches and chic fortress harbours, it’s also home to one of Italy’s most iconic hotels, Il Pellicano.
Perched on a hilltop just outside beautiful Porto Ercole, Hotel Il Pellicano is la dolce vita personified and was beloved by Slim Aarons, who visited and photographed its glamorous guests every year for 25 years. Starting life in 1965 as the Tuscan hideaway of an American socialite and her British aviator husband, it’s now reigned over by creative director and tastemaker Marie-Louise Sciò, whose father Roberto bought Il Pellicano in 1979. The family also owns La Posta Vecchia closer to Rome, as well as Mezzatorre in Ischia.
We caught up with Marie-Louise, who is herself the embodiment of Il Pellicano’s very Italian essence, to hear about her new lifestyle store and her favourite spots in and around her hotel.
Tell us about your new venture, ISSIMO?
‘ISSIMO is our new e-commerce and lifestyle platform inspired by Italy’s rich heritage. It’s the digital extension of our Pellicano world; an immersive journey into our culture, philosophy and taste. I created it as a love letter to Italy, from Italy and a way to give space and a voice to artisans and small brands who need to have their stories told.’
Do you have a favourite ISSIMO piece?
‘That’s a very difficult choice! I love them all, but I do love the Munari ISSIMO t-shirts - gesticulation is such an important part of the Italian language and it’s so identifiable.
Where are you based?
‘In Rome, but I travel A LOT. Summers are spent between all the hotels, including Il Pellicano.’
What do you think is so special about the Monte Argentario?
‘I grew up here. It is an amazing place; unspoiled. The water is amazing, the nature is wild and there is an incredible energy here.’
Do you have a favourite spot at the hotel?
‘The beach in the early morning. I meditate every day and being there alone is such a luxury.
What’s your go-to order at the bar?
‘I love the Pelican Martini, made by our barman Federico Morosi. It’s vodka orange, lime juice and Isolabella Mandarinetto – garnished with an olive stuffed with orange.’
Marie Louise Scio’s favourite spots:
Best beach to escape the crowds… Baratti in the north of Maremma.
Best sundowner spot… Capannuccia in Ansedonia for a Moscow Mule.
Best place for a romantic dinner… Pentronia close to Manciano. It’s so romantic and the gnocchi alla papa reale is not to be missed.
Best place for dancing on tables… anywhere with my girlfriends.
Best food experience… La Parrina, it’s a fabulous working farm.
Best-kept secret… Giglio, Giannutri… all the Tuscan islands.
Find out more about Hotel Il Pellicano and ISSIMO. Follow Marie-Louise on Instagram here.