Digitizing the Pellicano Hotels experience, trusting your guts, and acting as one of today's most inspiring ambassadors of the Italian way of life
© Photo by Cerruti Draime, all rights reserved
It's by a dreamy Saturday afternoon in mid-June, after a fast and exquisite lunch on the port in Porto Ercole like only Italians can provide, that we parked our rental car in Il Pellicano well-furnished garage located just beneath the famous grass tennis court.
We've been dreaming about this from the beginning of April, and the day we decided to take an ink-pen, our most beautiful Crown Mill stationery and write a letter to Marie-Louise Sciò, CEO, Creative Director and "Chef of Magic" of Pellicano Hotels, to detail why a collaboration between our two worlds would make such sense. Along with a few preliminary creative thoughts, a hand-rolled scarf from La Collection N°1, and a printed lookbook, the carefully crafted package tied with our landmark tricolor airmail thread was on its way to Il Pellicano, att. Marie-Louise Sciò.
Marie-Louise got back to us with the kindest email exactly one week after we sent the package, literally as soon as she got her hands on it really. One thing leading to another, we decided to meet at Il Pellicano as we were planning a trip to southern Tuscany that summer.
After landing in Pisa, we headed south for a first night in the delicate, Renaissance-like hills around Volterra. Waking up to the smell of the moka, we then joined Casale Marittimo for a sublime lunch of pappardelle sul cinghiale and rosso della casa before stopping by Bolgheri, Il Viale dei Cipressi and Castagneto Carducci.
We arrived in Porto Ercole the next day for a tour of the Via Panoramica, a dreamy path surrounding the Monte Argentario peninsula which offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, and lunch on the port.
© Photo by Cerruti Draime, all rights reserved
Passing through the gates of Il Pellicano was somewhat magical.
A place we've been dreaming of for long now was here, in front of us with its iconic grass tennis court, terra cotta walls and the most welcoming lobby - a family living room, showcasing occurrences of the Pellicano symbol under the form of ceramic sculptures and paintings.
What you see from that living room announces what comes next with the two panoramic terraces and the famous sea of rosemary leading down to the saltwater pool overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. Everything is quite like we imagined, that is perfect, and very natural at the same time, with that unique feeling of coziness and being part of something different. It's quite rare not to be disappointed by places you've dreamed about; Il Pellicano delivers exactly what you thought it would, being true to its roots, culture, and understated luxury atmosphere.
Busy sorting out the schedule of an upcoming cocktail session later that day, Marie-Louise Sciò joined a few moments later with Sandra Niccolini, manager of the Pelliclub. Something clicked between us quite right away. We were talking the same language, having the same references to the effortlessly chic Mediterranean way of life, a passion for the carefully handcrafted products, Italian textile savoir-faire, and a similar sense for bold, vibrant yet refined colors. Called by another meeting, Marie-Louise slipped away while Sandra was taking us for a tour of the hotel. We found Marie-Louise back at the Pelliclub for a tour of the shop and a preliminary brainstorming on all the merchandising options our scarves could offer.
It's at that precise moment that we fully understood what Il Pellicano is all about.
For the 30 minutes or so we spent in the store, no less than half-a-dozen guests passed by, greeting Marie-Louise as if they were family relatives, with a big hug or a knowing smile. That authentic feeling of a community was infusing everywhere, from the kindness of the bartender to the way Il Pellicano staff was behaving with clients, always with the right balance of intimacy and service.
You feel great in that place, really, which is, beyond the beautiful decors and interior design concepts brought by Marie-Louise, perhaps her greatest achievement, and why her hotels are so unique.
As privileged as one can be, we have the pleasure to have Marie-Louise Sciò sitting with us today to talk this through, from how she ideated the Issimo online platform to her creative direction at Pellicano Hotels group as well as her unique take on curation, interior design, and colors.
It is now, for you, in the Journal.
© Photos by Laura Sciacovelli for Issimo, all rights reserved
Hi Marie-Louise, it is such a pleasure to have you here. Thank you!
We're so proud and honored to be part of the Issimo inaugural collaborations. Let's jump right in, why Issimo? I wanted to find something that connected all the various areas that I wanted to dig deep into…. Design, food, travel, fashion. And it just made sense. I like to dig deep, find the very best. If you add the suffix issimo to practically any adjective, it makes it better - like buono becomes buonissimo - the most delicious, and I wanted to share this.
What has been the click moment for all this? We’d been trying to grow the hotel group for the past ten years, and it took literally ten years to find a new hotel we liked. But obviously to do a hotel is a long process. I realized I wanted to do something that is a bit faster and create a “virtual hotel” in some ways. Obviously Issimo is a place that reflects the aesthetic and the philosophy of the hotels. It’s really trying to make that intangibility of the hotels tangible and on line.
How did you curate all the brands you co-created exclusive capsule collections with? From my gut. Brands I like, products I like. All these collaborations come very naturally and organically, it’s never us sitting at a table and business choosing. One of my first collaborations was years ago with APC hats, and to be honest, I never even thought of it as a collaboration - it was the natural evolution of a brand I loved and wanted to work with. Like with you, Sylvain. You came to the Pellicano, we met. At the time, I didn’t know Les Belles Heures and I was curious. The packaging was really nice, you really transmitted a serious passion for what you do, the product is beautiful and made with love… and that’s how that happened.
Issimo x Les Belles Heures © Photo by Giada Mariani for Issimo, all rights reserved
What makes for a great curation to you? Being honest about what you are interested in. It’s personal. I work a lot with my instinct and my gut.
How does it resonate with the work you do building and expanding the Pellicano Hotels group? It’s a complete extension and reflection online of all of the hotels. I choose everything that is visual in the hotels and also the bits and bobs in terms of experiences (like the films, books, and music). And it is very natural to communicate all of that in Issimo.
We love the simple, barefoot luxury approach of everything you do. Would you guide us through the unique relationship you have with each of the hotels of the group, namely Il Pellicano, La Posta Vecchia and Mezzatorre? I grew up in Il Pellicano and La Posta Vecchia, so they are literally home. It was great, both were really formative for my eye, and I also think that living in Italy shapes the way you see things. We all have certain senses that are more heightened then others but I think my eye really developed because of my surroundings. Pellicano was my summer place - I had a lot friends in the area, Porto Ercole was the destination for teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s. It was the summer place. Ischia was an instant love story.
© Photos by Cerruti Draime, all rights reserved
How did your approach evolve between the renovation of Il Pellicano in 2006 and the launch of Mezzatorre last year? All three houses are very different between each other but then again they have similarities - emotionally, design-wise, and the approach. I always try to go lightly, tiptoeing not trying to slap my ego on it - I want to make those places talk. Mezzatorre was the same. The approach I have is blowing off the dust, instead of going in with an axe.
© Photos by Ryan Neeven, all rights reserved
We first met at Il Pellicano while I was away for a short Mediterranean break in Monte Argentario with a few ideas in my mind. That meeting was very nice and felt very natural. What did you first think when we met? I thought you were great and I really liked you. You had really good vibes.
We then entered the selection of the Pelliclub, the boutique nestled inside Il Pellicano which is a very important part of the social life at the hotel. People would gather there and chat for a moment around the next go-to accessory between a dive in the pool and a friendly game on the amazing grass tennis court. Would you describe what is so unique about life at Il Pellicano? I think there is an understated simplicity. It doesn’t scream and shout. It’s a place that people go to really enjoy the nature and the people. It’s got a great living room - I always say that when you go to someone’s house and you meet interesting people, it’s always great. And I think the Pellicano has that. It attracts a very specific, mixed, and diverse crowd.
We love the way you play with colors, whether in your outfits or in the interiors you imagine for your hotels. How has your relation to colors evolved over the years? Has it always been so easy? Yes, because growing up in Rome is very formative. I have a good relationship with color. Very natural.
© Photo by Cerruti Draime, all rights reserved
How would you describe your own style in terms of both interior design and clothing? Classic eclectic.
You've done so many cool things so far. What's the achievement you're the most proud of? My son.
Who are the photographers, and artists, that inspire you the most? Brett Lloyd, the photographers of Bau Haus. I love land art. I love James Turrell, Leandro Erlich puts a smile on my face. And of course, Ignasi Monreal. Anything that makes me think….
Ignasi Monreal x ISSIMO x Dedar wall paper
How would you describe LBH in 3 words? Mi piace tantissimo.
Who would you like to read in our next Style talk series? Giuliva - Margherita Cardelli and Gerardo Cavaliere.
Thank you so much Marie-Louise, it has been lovely. It’s been fabulous, thank you.