Famed American photographer Slim Aarons may have been the first to immortalize the ineffable glamour of Il Pellicano, a luxurious hotel along the Tuscan Coast, back in the 60s. But Instagram has since propelled the heritage hotel and its sister properties, La Posta Vecchia and Mezzatorre, to digital stardom. It’s hard not to stumble upon the hotel’s iconic white-and-yellow striped beach towels or cliffside sun loungers on the app – images that capture the essence of il dolce far niente and the effortless simplicity of an Italian summer.
The collection of properties transmits what is so special about Italy in a way few others do – with style, wit and boundless charm. This is in large part due to the work of Marie-Louise Sciò, the self-titled “chef of magic” who spent her youth running around the grand halls of La Posta Vecchia each summer. She has since taken over the family business and infused each property with modern elegance, carefully curating details to ensure each stay is unforgettable.
“Hotels are like people,” says Ms. Sciò. “And family-run businesses always reflect the personalities of their owners.” That’s why she has worked so hard to transmit a feeling of joie de vivre in her hotels, playing with patterns, shapes and color to create an immersive experience. “As hoteliers, we have people’s time in our hands so it’s really important to ensure their time is well spent while they’re on holiday. That’s why I’m so manic about details: I want to surprise and delight every guest.”
With a keen understanding of hospitality and an innate talent for entertaining, Ms. Sciò has made the hotels stand out as some of Italy’s most desirable escapes. And now, with the launch of Issimo, a lifestyle platform inspired by the Pellicano Hotel philosophy, she is set to conquer the e-commerce space as well.
Issimo is a digital love letter to the Bel Paese – a platform that “embraces the passion and soul of Italy’s superlatives in life and living”. An online shop purveying the best Made In Italy wares and an inspirational travel magazine, it brings together everything that is “bellissimo”, “buonissimo” and “fichissimo” about the Italian lifestyle.
“I want Issimo to be the place for everything Italian,” says Ms. Sciò. “Whether you’re looking for a birthday present for a friend, ideas for a recipe or travel tips, the platform encompasses the timelessness of Italian beauty and culture.” Modeled after an Italian vintage newspaper, there’s a touch of nostalgia throughout with a contemporary flair that keeps everything fresh and aspirational. You’ll find a feature on iconic Italian designer Bruno Munari and t-shirts printed with his famous Italian hand gestures along with memorabilia displayed in the hotels, including handcrafted wallpaper and Mezzatorre’s delightful pink beach umbrellas.
In classic Marie-Louise Sciò fashion, it also features collaborations with Italian and international designers, including Dedar, Lisa Corti and For Restless Sleepers. “Teamwork is really important to me. I’ve been watching The Last Dance on Netflix and Michael Jordan’s quote about teamwork really resonated with me: ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.’ Everything is interconnected and no man is an island – I think that’s true now more than ever,” she says. She proudly tells me about Issimo’s “all girls team” and the importance of women supporting other women, “especially in Italy”, she says. The country has the second largest employment gap between men and women in Europe (19.8 percentage points in 2019, according to Eurostat).
As for the future of travel after the pandemic, Ms. Sciò is an optimist who sees the silver lining. “I think this situation really changed the way we perceive the world and showed us the value of time, the value of people, places and things. There’s a desire to travel deeper, in a more meaningful way,” she says. Though many have had to postpone long-awaited trips to Italy this year, the arrival of Issimo will help inspire daydreams of the Bel Paese until they can return.