[PORTO ERCOLE, TUSCANY] — Driving through the hills and ravines of western Tuscany, you find yourself in the little known coastal area of wild and woolly Maremma. The road rolls down to the sea, you drive across a causeway and lagoon to Monte Argentario, a hump of an island and now basically a peninsula connected by two bridges. Looking out at fishing boats and people bobbing along the shore, you wind through tiny Porto Ercole, pop up and over a hill, see the tiny pelican logo and pull into an ivy covered parking area.

As the bellman grabs your things you glide through the lobby and head towards the sun on the terrace. It’s the view that hits you in the gut. Gah!

Down a tumbling hill, spiky pines frame the view, fuzzy rosemary bushes trimmed into green bubbles fir for a fever dream. Then the cerulean pool, umbrellas tied up like the owner’s long ponies. This is the magic of Il Pellicano. One of the best boutique hotels in Italy.

view of pool Il Pellicano

Il Pellicano is a world famous destination resort on the western Tuscan coast of Maremma. Notable for over fifty years and hosting the most fashionable people you have and haven’t heard of. Slim Aarrons even hung out for years and captured its style and the style of its guest, there’s even a book about it which retails for as high as a thousand dollars.

Il Pellicano is on the top of nearly every Gold List. It’s been a Leading Hotels of the World hotel for decades and is built around the Michelin two-star restaurant, which in itself is worth the trip.

Romantic Il Pellicano

If you were anywhere near a travel magazine or fashion magazine the last several years, you probably saw stories about Hotel Il Pellicano and its talented and stylish CEO Mary Louise Scio. Stories pop up everywhere that matters, known by everyone, and the world famous who all come here to roost.

When they celebrated their 50th anniversary several years ago and all the cicada broods came out at once; just about every famous name ending in i or e was here, as they always have been, coming to celebrate this quiet paradise overlooking the shimmering blue Tyrrhenian Sea Sea.

view of main building Il Pellicano

This is not one of those stuffy places, with over the top white glove silver service and pretension. This is like going to the summer house of a wealthy friend-of-a-friend; someone with really good taste, but not too-too.

In fact, if one actress represented this place it would be Alicia Vikander at any awards shows. Elegant and demure, fluent in any language with just a slight accent, wearing the coolest understand floral pattern, different from everyone else on the red carpet, with sexy shoulders and showing just the right amount of leg. And a Good Tanner.

Yep, that’s Il Pellicano. Oscar Worthy.

The views are stunning, overlooking the Argentario peninsula, not far from where the Costa Concordia tipped over a decade ago on cute little Giglio island. It was still slumped over when I was there in 2012 and quite a sight to see from water.

Il Pellicano pool storm clouds
Island view from Il Pellicano

The Dining at Il Pellicano

Really amazing service, where each and every person, from the waiter to the bartender, remembers what you ordered the last time.

Il Pellicano dining at night

This is where you eat. If you’re into two star Michelin food, you’ll love this. You know my world revolves around restaurants and food, but I finally figured out: I don’t like stuffy. This porridge is juuussst right. Italian. Outdoors. On a cliff overlooking the sea.

Think crisp cotton striped shirt and no socks, not tux or tie. Besides the beautiful hotel, the restaurant at Il Pellicano is another reason why this place is near the 🔝 of nearly every gold list, year after year. Beautiful, perfect, simple iconic Italian food, executed at the highest level.

restaurant umbrellas Il Pellicano

The Famous Il Pellicano Swimming Terrace

IYKYK. It’s instantly recognizable. That jagged white rugged edge overlooking an emerald sea.

You recognize where, just seeing a corner of it in any travel or fashion magazine, the famous steps and white-painted terrace right down by the sea at Il Pellicano. And now, the trademark yellow stripe that have become a branding identifier.

When you see this yellow stripe, in Milan, New York or London, you know it’s Il Pellicano.

Famous swimming terrace Il Pellicano
Il Pellicano view of swimming terrace

The Rooms at Il Pellicano

I was there at the end of the season, in early October, so they were just about to shut down for the season, so few people were there. But I lucked out with incredible, cloudless 80 degree days. It’s a great place to base out of, taking day trips to the really undiscovered Maremma coast and inland Tuscan hill towns.

Rooms are above the main building and restaurant, or scattered out in wings tucked between the rosemary bushes. Whatever you do, splurge on the Sea View rooms.

$1,500 is the new $700. Il Pellicano hits the high notes, but worth every penny.

You will remember every day here for the rest of your life.

Il Pellicano view of sea view rooms

The hotel service was really something special. They had one of the best pre-arrival email system setup to pre-welcome you, advise you of special things you can pre-arrange. It was all automated, but at the same time felt very personal.

Day Trips Nearby — Maremma, The Tuscan Coast and Monte Argentario

The name Argentario come from Argentarii which was the name for money changers in ancient Rome. Since then, and because of it’s paradise-nearby location, Rome and Italy’s famous families have been coming here for generations. So many famous last names have holed up on this island over the millennia: Orsini, Agnelli, Caravaggio, Feltrinelli, Luongo.

The sparsely populated western edge of the island hides these estates, tucked behind unassuming gates that open up to their own private lands. You’ll feel like you have the island to yourself when you drive around.

Here’s another post I made about a Day Trip to Maremma and Monte Argentario.

Monte Argentario coastal view
Monte Argentario
Porto Santo Stefano
Porto Santo Stefano

The wild and wooly coast of Maremma, famed for its prized Maremmana beef-raising and Tuscan cowboys, abandoned mines and Etruscan tombs. The more inland you get, the hillier, the more jaw-dropping the villages. Even a calcified thermal spring dating back to Roman times sits nonchalantly on the side of the road. Bubbling up in the midst of farm fields as nonchalant as a drinking fountain in a grade school.

Saturnia Thermal Springs
Saturnia Thermal Springs

Last Visited October 2012, Post Updated June 2024

More Information on the Magic of Il Pellicano

Don’t believe me, here are some great articles for more information and much better pictures. This article in the Wall Street Journal called Pelli “a Tuscan Dream” and it has the iconic shot of the instantly recognizable swimming platform . And this NYT piece calling Il Pellicano “italian perfection”. An awesome anniversary story in the NY Times — which has kinda become a house pub for the hotel and MLS, speaking of, here’s a NYT piece on MLS. Il Pellicano’s listing on the Michelin Guide. And here’s a Financial Times article on MLS. The writeup from the best travel advisor in the UK, Bellini Travel, she’s there about once a month!

Il PellIcano and Mary Louise Scio have become so wired into the fashion elite — they all holiday there — that during the pandemic she started her own fashion online site, bringing Italy and Il Pellicano to the people. She does collabs with all the biggest names in Italian fashion and style. Under Mary Louise’s guidance, the Pellicano Group has gone on to open up other classic Italian luxury hotels, outside Rome in an old Getty mansion and in a turreted castle on the island of Ischia, near Capri. With promises of more to come.


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