Stylish Tuscan hideaway

Italian beauty on the Argentario coast

Breathtaking, iconic Tuscan retreat

Destination: Porto Ecole, Italy
Vacation: Classic beachside retreat
Seeking: Effortless dolce vita living
Highlight: Private cove location (and Michelin star dining)

Between Rome and Pisa, Hotel Il Pellicano hides on one of Monte Argentario’s most beautiful coves. Here, it’s all wild beaches and mediterranean pine trees and it’s where wealthy Italians have been escaping for years. The pool and private beach seem fresh out of a Slim Aarons shoot. The photographer shot many of his iconic photographs here in the 70s, so it’s no wonder this villa-turned-hotel has hosted everyone from Sophia Loren to Charles Chaplin.

When we first approached the hotel’s grand gates, I felt a bit ‘Sophia Loren’ myself as our car was whisked away and we were greeted by one of the hotel’s swift golf carts and taken to reception. We sipped a spritz as we wandered in a daze out to the terrace, the deep-blue waves peeking between the umbrellas. We toured the restaurants (one with a Michelin-star tasting menu), the spa and colourful boutique, the pristine saltwater pool, and then at last – the private beach. We were led down winding stone steps to the dreamy sundeck, where a curve of white umbrellas and sunbeds laid with lemon-striped towels awaited. The sight literally took my breath away, so thankfully there was a private lift to soar us back up to the deck to check into our room.

Hotel Il Pellicano is now part of the Pellicano Hotels Group, but was originally created in the 1950s by two socialite lovers – an American heiress and a British fighter pilot – as a romantic retreat. It’s now owned by Robert Sciò, with his daughter Marie-Louise Sciò as creative director, and still feels more like the private villa it once was than a hotel. There are 47 rooms, most with sea views and terraces, allowing the delicious scent of rosemary and bougainvillea to fill your room. The style is warm, laidback and playful, with plenty of summery Tuscan spirit.

For more regional inspiration read our guide to the most romantic things to do in Tuscany to really make the most of your trip. You can also browse the full collection of stunning luxury resorts in Europe.

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“Each day the Tuscan sunlight illuminates our pristine blue bay, infusing us all with a sense of delicious wonder. It’s no surprise that Il Pellicano is famed for its ‘sprezzatura’ – effortless style.”

Best food & drink

1. Restaurant Il Pellicano

You can choose from two restaurants at the hotel and the Michelin-starred Restaurant Il Pellicano is the more formal choice, located on the top terrace. Guests in linen suits and sundresses clink glasses in the little bar outside while piano music drifts lazily out into the night.

We tried Chef Michelino Gioia’s tasting menu as a treat with our friends and we sat happily drinking it all in, listening to the ocean. Dishes are Tuscan-inspired with a contemporary twist – including lobster and game showstoppers, and the most perfectly golden, juicy scallops I’ve ever tried.

There’s pasta, of course, and the burrata and sage ravioli is unforgettable. While dessert is velvety slabs of chocolate, wheeled out on a stylish trolley. On Mondays, the restaurant goes meat-free in the name of sustainability, and you’ll find creative veggie and fish dishes that are more than worthy.

2. Pelligrill

Pelligrill is more laidback and overlooks the sea and the pool area. The atmosphere and menu captures all the freshness of the sea and is great for lunch or more relaxed dinners. So, it’s here we savoured the catch of the day and a bottle of Tignanello (produced nearby at Antinori’s vineyards) after a morning swim.

The menu celebrates traditional Tuscan cuisine, so it’s the place to go for local T-bone steaks, slow-roasted lamb and classics like cacio e pepe and truffle pasta. Plus, all the Mediterranean herbs used are taken from the surrounding gardens. The only place to head after is by the pool for a snooze.

3. Bar All’Aperto

Aperitivo (or cocktail hour) was my favourite time of day at Pellicano. Bar All’Aperto is a cool terrace bar with clusters of sofas to curl up on. Lead mixologist Federico Morosi is passionate about ingredients from local producers and has his own personal library of recipes, spotlighting Italian liqueurs.

The drinks are classic with a twist, and while sitting beneath a signature lemon-striped umbrella, we browsed the menu and nibbled on local olives and hunks of tongue-tingling Parmesan that arrived as soon as we sat down. My Pelican Martini had a dash of Mandarinetto (a mandarin orange liquor from the Amalfi Coast) and the Aperol Spritz was spiked with Elisir di China, which is herbal and fragrant.

Thankfully, the bar is open all day – from early morning espressos to sunset Negronis, if you so wish.

Hotel Il Pellicano dining
Il Pellicano luxury hotel in Tuscany


You can choose from rooms in the main hotel or a cottage with its own private pool. We stayed in a double sea view room that was quiet and understated. The interiors are authentically Tuscan with warm, terracotta tiles and beams. It felt more like a luxurious guest room in a welcoming home. Even the mini bar is complimentary so it’s like helping yourself to your host’s secret pantry.

The terrace had panoramic views and we stood for a moment when we first arrived, breathing in the smell of fresh rosemary from the garden. The highlight for me was the huge marble bathroom, with plenty of space for dressing up and getting ready for our sumptuous dinners.

Pitons St Lucia


The Beach Club is just a short walk from the rooms, and the private pier is perfect for launching yourself into paddleboarding or snorkelling. The beach bar serves up hangover-crushing juices and smoothies, and light lunches so you could just make this your base for the trip.

But, if you’re keen for something more active, there are the hotel’s tennis courts and local hiking routes. From the hotel, you can follow a trail up Monte Argentario’s hillside and take in the wild heather, juniper and rosemary as you climb. 10 minutes’ drive away is Porto Ercole – where the artist Caravaggio lived for a while. It’s a modern port town, so you can perch up in one of the bars to watch the yachts come and go.

Or, book yourself a private boat trip and head to Grotta Azzurra – a rocky cave with clear, turquoise waters to explore. We headed a little further to Isola del Giglio – one of seven islands that make up the Tuscan Archipelago. We pulled up for lunch, wandered around the tiny village and tucked into fresh octopus and raw fish.

Sandals Halcyon Beach luxury resort St Lucia


Pelliclub Spa is one of the most extensive I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Before our final dinner, my friend and I treated ourselves to a bespoke full body massage – to soothe our sun-baked skin and distract ourselves from the prospect of home time.

The boutique is placed in the foyer of the spa, so you can blissfully browse interior accessories and ready-to-wear outfits before or after your treatment. The global collection is curated by Marie-Louise Sciò and you can pick up linen shirts, elegant bikinis or one-of-a-kind jewellery. Her latest venture is the lifestyle brand ISSIMO, which includes hotel souvenirs like prints, totes and those iconic lemon-striped towels, just in case you want to recreate the timeless Tuscan style for yourself at home.

Hotel Il Pellicano

Beautiful beachside retreat in Porto Ecole.
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