When she’s not in Tuscany running Il Pellicano, a gorgeous hotel near Porto Ercole, Marie-Louise Scio lives in Rome. This is where we met her, in her sunny appartement in Monteverde, a quiet and residential district. From there, on the fourth floor, you can admire Rome’s skyline and the hill of Aventino with its magnificent umbrella pines.
From there, Rome seems like a big village, sluggish and noisy at the same time. In front of a hand-made and colorful dining-room table designed by Marie Louise herself, she tells us about Il Pellicano, and the kind of luxury that has blossomed there over the years. Taking after her father, who created the hotel fifty years ago, Marie-Louise has a very special way of enjoying the Mediterranean blue sea and the light of Tuscany – both of which reflect in her personality and character. At Il Pellicano, you walk barefoot on the magnificent stone floors, drinking a glass of wine stretched out on a sofa and you are, for a moment, as if by magic, an antic god in starry night. This is why Marie-Louise, priestess of the place, has a interesting and accurate vision of what luxury is today and could be tomorrow. Listen to her.
What does luxury mean to you?
“Luxury is about reality, it’s an experience – as when you’re connected with that ceramic which was hand-made in Sicily by an old man. Luxury are these kinds of connections and experiences .”
Do you consider Hotel Il Pellicano a luxury hotel?
Yes but you know, luxury is a strange word today. I think we need a new word for this kind of thing. The old idea of luxury, with rich curtains and golden faucets does not exist any more. The connotation of luxury is not the same at all today .”
Do you think luxury has a good connotation today?
“I’m not sure. I’m debating it. Today people travel in so many different ways. They want and need different experiences.”
Maybe you can think of a new word for luxury?
“I’m thinking about it, really ! For sure luxury is no longer about looking out, like I told you, it’s about looking in. It’s more about culture and less about money. You know, luxury is also very relative, everyone has their own idea about it.”
After 50 years of existence, how do you keep your hotel (Il Pellicano) hip and relevant?
“We just do a lot of different things in the hotel, because for me (Il Pellicano) is not only a hotel but a place with connections to the world of art or fashion. We do what we like and try to promote interesting projects. It’s the most powerful way to stay the way we are. I think Il Pellicano is a unique place because when we change or update it, we keep its DNA , which is understated. It’s definitely an understated place. Here, it’s not about showing off your power or your money. Here, the luxury is about simple things so comparing it to other places, we are a quite simple hotel.
“Yet, every detail is very, very studied by me. I am obsessive! There is a lot of love in there .”
What do you look for when traveling ?
“I look for nature. I want to see the Northern Lights with my thirteen-year-old son. I want to goto Mongolia too. Last year I went to Patagonia, in the middle of the desert. When you are in this kind of nature, you are a part of something so much bigger. You can feel it! It’s always a very strong sensation. I can’t explain it very well but I need this kind of experience. Pellicano Hotel is in a really unique spot too. It’s in an incredible southern part of Tuscany, on the coast, where the nature is amazing and it’s not so well known .”
In terms of hotels, what do you look for when traveling?
“I don’t want a five star hotel. For me, this kind of classification is over. I look for a place with personality and authenticity. I’ve been to San Francisco and Los Angeles and stayed at a hotel with shared bathrooms. It was one of the best places I’ve ever been. The experience is the most important thing to me. It’s not the size of the bathroom or how many phones are in the bedroom. I believe most people are like me, they are looking for different things now.”
Do you have any upcoming projects at Il Pellicano that you’re particularly excited about?
“Projects? [laughing] I always have a project. I can say that now I am focusing on bringing out this new way of being hospitable to the world. Il Pellicano embodies that philosophy and I’d like to bring that to other places in the world.”