He locked himself in the restaurant of Guida, the chef at Il Pellicano, for two weeks so he could work on the dishes without any styling or lights, just voyeuristic zoomed-in shots. Who ever thought of a pornographic recipe book before?
And who wants to go on holiday to Il Pellicano, a villa nestled amidst the cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea set in the shade of towering cypress trees, and look at monuments of Italian neorealist films? Yes, Marie Louise is well aware that her guests go there to relax, but it’s important for her that they can also have the chance to enhance themselves. Only if they want to, of course, and without going over the top.
Yet there could be no satisfaction greater than when a number of long-standing guests arrived at Il Pellicano and said, “Something has changed, but we’re not quite sure what …” She casually took charge of the gradual renovation of the hotel about ten years ago, and for her this was proof that she had managed to bring a positive, light and exclusive legacy from the roaring Twenties into the present day.
Above all, she enjoys intellectual provocations.
To those who ask her what her favourite hotel in the world is, she answers that it is a $15-a night family-run hotel in Kerala
She boldly states that stars should be awarded for a hotel’s spirit, not for how big the shower is. The same goes in her office, for example, where they still haven’t grasped the fact that the more they warn her about the problems a project poses, the more she enjoys it.
Marie Louise slides from one thought to another for a couple of hours until she has passed Porto Ercole and turned onto a steep little road, leaving normality behind on the approach to Il Pellicano. Now, that magical location is rising up before her, concealed by lush vegetation. She winds down a window and the fragrance of pine resin takes her by surprise. In a flash, she is back in her childhood, when as a curious but shy girl she would hide amidst the bushes to observe the world of the grownups: the moored Riva yachts, the drinks by the pool and everything she saw again in Slim Aarons’s photos when she was a grownup herself. But just then, she realises that there has always been something missing from those photographs. There was one person in particular she liked to spy on; a woman in her forties who would take her two Jack Russels for a walk in a long dress and a turban. Every morning she would take a dip wearing a wonderful flowery bathing cap and a parasol. Who was she? Why was she so fascinated by her?
The voice of her father, Roberto Scio, brings her back to the present. “Welcome, my dear”.