Kathy McCabe asked me to write about my favorite place in Italy for her ever-informative “Dream of Italy” newsletter. Her headline for the article: “Il Pellicano: The Love Resort.” It truly is—and here’s why.
Un nido d'amore
A Love Nest
It was love at first sight (amore a prima vista). My gaze swept from majestic cliffs to terracotta roofs to flower-strewn terraces to sun-dazzled water. Il Pellicano took my breath away (ha mozzato il fiato).
“I want you to bring me here every year for the rest of my life,” I said to my husband Bob. That was 1990—and we have indeed returned annually. “Come gli uccelli in primavera,” (like the birds in spring) I joke. How could we not? No place on earth may be more romantic.
Love is in the DNA of this renowned Relais & Chateaux resort. In the 1960s Michael Graham, a dashing British pilot and war hero, stole the heart (ha rubato il cuore) of the beautiful American heiress Patsy Danzel. After marrying, they travelled through Europe to revel “in the intensity of their love” ("nell’intensità del loro amore"), as one biography puts it).
A remote hillside on Monte Argentario in western Tuscany inspired the Grahams to develop a true nido d’amore (love nest). They named it “Il Pellicano” in honor of Pelican Point, where they’d met. Rather than a standard hotel, the sprawling compound consists of a main building (una struttura principale), stone cottages (cottage in pietra), gardens (giardini) of herbs and wild rosemary, beds (aiuole) of bright flowers, and groves of olive trees and cypress (olivi e cipressi). The glitterati of Europe made themselves at home at the posh but unpretentious resort.
When we discovered Il Pellicano in 1990, it had settled into a quiet, rustic inn. Over the years we’ve witnessed its stunning transformation into an exclusive resort (un resort esclusivo) under the astute management of its second owner, Roberto Sciò. Every part of Il Pellicano has been updated, renovated and polished to a five-star sheen. The main restaurant has won two Michelin stars under its wizardly chef Antonio Guida. A ristorante all’aperto (an open-air restaurant) offers typical Tuscan cuisine (cucina toscana).
Many guests spend the day lounging around the elegant pool (pigramente sdraiati intorno all’elegante piscina), but I rush to the crystal-clear sea, so intensely turquoise that Italians call it azzurro-azzurro (blue-blue). Early morning swims are my favorite. Except for a few fishing boats, I have the entire Tyrrhenian sea to myself.
Il Pellicano, regularly named to Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler’s lists of top hotels, offers every possible amenity, but nature provides its most magical moments. The first time that I saw a full moon rise above the dining terrace, I gasped. Within minutes a river of moon light turned the sea to silver. A waiter told me this is why the peninsula is called “Argentario” (from argento for silver). If his story isn’t true, it should be. The sight is magical. So is the atmosphere.
“I don’t believe you’re married,” The maitre’d would tease us. “You laugh too much. You must be lovers (amanti).” Even after 21 years, that’s exactly how we feel at Il Pellicano. Come with someone you cherish for una fuga d’amore in riva al mare (a love escape at the sea shore), and you’ll feel the same.
Words and Expressions
uno tra i migliori alberghi del mondo -– one among the best hotels in the world
vista mare –- sea view
una cena a lume di candela –- a dinner by candle light
la cucina raffinata –- refined or sophisticated cuisine
lusso, lussuoso -- luxury, luxurious
Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.