Quisisana, Il San Pietro, Hotel Splendido; they are hotels as ubiquitous to Italian summer as the season itself. And then there's Il Pellicano,
the utterly stylish Tuscan resort that made a jetset destination out of
a sleepy harbour known as Porto Ercole that still manages to escape the
assembly line of August travellers that almost ruin places like Capri,
Positano and Portofino. To find Il Pellicano, you'll need to plan on a
2-hour drive from Rome preferably with one of the hotel's long-time
chauffeurs that narrates the drive with stories of the owner and his
family that includes his daughter, hotelier Marie-Louise Scio, that
currently curates the creative vision and experience of Il Pellicano - that's truly better than ever.
On my first trip to Il Pellicano I chose to rent a car in Rome and make the drive myself. A cumbersome rental experience led to a speedy drive through Civitavecchia, right past Pellicano's sister-property La Posta Vecchia that was once the private estate of J. Paul Getty. I wished Porto Ercole came 30-minutes earlier, eagerly awaiting the exit with its one road that meanders endlessly through the small town and along a prettier seafront road with fish restaurants and gelato venders that I never went back to visit. The buildings of Il Pellicano are neither historic nor awesome, a terracotta roof complex with central tennis court, less-preferential garden annex and seafront compound with reception, spa and Michelin-star eatery that also serves breakfast. Inside, a reception of low-ceilings feels far taller following the various greetings and cordial salutations from its impeccable staff as all your attention focuses on the coastal Tuscan horizon.
Unlike Capri or Positano, you come to Il Pellicano and rarely leave with the exception of the occasional beach club meal or jaunt into town. The spa is unrivaled, the in-house boutique unabashedly chic and the pool scene is only usurped by the saunter down to the waterfront deck with swimming pier and water as pretty as Baroque painter Caravaggio praised it just days before his death here. When asked about the rooms, I often say I don't remember, as days at the Pellicano are recalled more through the lemony scent of its homemade bathroom toiletries or taste of its incredible walnut-size olives that accompany each and every Spritz or Negroni made by head barman Federico Morosi. Evening meals are an event, as dressy city folk make an entrance to the Michelin starred eatery where dinners linger til 2am at one of summer's most iconic hotels.