Hotel Pellicano: Retro, Coastal, and Chic

On our Blue Life blog, we're always looking to highlight great ocean experiences. Hotel Pellicano in Tuscany is one of our favorite coastal hideaways and we are excited to share this article by Elle Decor, originally published 07.17.18


By Stefano Annovazzi Lodi

Port Ercole in Monte Argentario, situated along the Tuscan coast between Pisa and Rome, hides one of the most famous hotels in the world. Subtle and refined luxury abounds amidst pristine natural landscapes where industry’s biggest figures have flocked with stars of the silver screen for over sixty years. Here at the Pellicano, privacy is protected through a maze of olive trees, cypresses, oleander, bougainvillea, rosemary, and lavender.

It was back in 1950, when two young Americans, Air Force ace Michael Graham and social jet-setter Patsy Dazsel, found themselves among the picture perfect landscapes here in Tuscany. Stirring memories of the elite couple’s first encounter on the cliffs of California’s Pelican Point, Graham and Dazsel decided it was time for a life change, establishing their very own luxury hotel, aptly named the Pellicano.

After the construction of six cottages around a central body, word began to spread of the small paradise awaiting Hollywood’s finest in true Italian style. Among its star-studded clientele, the Pellicano hosted big names like Henry Fonda and Gianni Agnelli. From the Pellicano’s private bay, the Tuscan archipelago can be reached by boat, pushing off towards Montecristo, Isola del Giglio, or Elba.

Years passed, and stories stirred about how Roberto Sciò, the current owner, ended up at the Pellicano in Porto Ercole. While his daughter says it was back in 1965 during a boat trip, Roberto himself says it was 1967 and he arrived on his own two feet. However, one thing is for certain: the first person he came upon was Charlie Chaplin, who frequented the hotel for vacations with his daughter Geraldine. The Pellicano was already a legendary establishment, and it wasn’t long before it made an appearance in Alberto Sordi’s Journey with Papa, along with the photos of Slim Aarons featuring Kirk Douglas, Britt Ekland, and Yul Brynner.

Among the most beautiful suites on site, Chaplin’s cottage was the first purchase by the Roman businessman, which was followed by others. Then, in 1979, the Graham’s put the entire hotel up for sale and Sciò didn’t waste a moments time to seize the property he had fallen in love with.

While the garden was entrusted to Paghera, interiors at the Pellicano were curated by Sciò’s daughter Marie-Louise, who graduated in architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. With an experience at New York’s Costas Kondylis & Partners and then in Italy at Massimo Zompa, Marie-Louise got to work on one of Italy’s most historic hotels. Her job was to maintain the Pellicano’s style — international Italian — with armchairs by Gio Ponti and drawings from Fornasetti. The entire structure was then outfitted in marittime style with traditional Tuscan furnishings. Also acting as creative director for Pellicano’s boutique, Marie-Louise Sciò has selected a new collection with coherent styles to the locale for each season.

To improve the structure and its services, interesting new collaborations are formed each year. Just take the Pellicano cookbook shot by fashion photographer Juergen Teller, which became a best seller in the United States, the 100 best movies curated by Saverio Costanzo, or the library conceived by Leonardo Colombati.

Back in the hotel’s kitchen, a Michelin Star and three forks from Gambero Rosso see the menu of Chef Michelino Gioia change throughout the seasons along with a catch of the day. One thing that has remained the same, is the wine cellar, with over 2,000 bottles available. Finally, don’t miss the saltwater pool, the wellness center with 6 days of custom treatments, and the sauna inspired by the ancient Romans. After all this, it’s no surprise that the Pellicano is among the Leading Hotels of the World.