The head of artistic direction for the legendary Pellicano hotel group, Marie-Louise Scio makes sparks fly. Having studied design and architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, the youngest child of Robert Scio tried her hand at interior design beside Massimo Zompa in her native city, Rome, before returning to her first love. Her father’s establishment in which she had grown up: Il Pellicano. It was back in 1979 that the Scio family took over this jewel nestling between the sea and the Tuscan landscape at Porto Ercole. The very place that, since its opening in 1964, has hosted Italian dynasties, Hollywood actors and socialites of every kind. A refuge that has to be booked at least a year in advance and whose image has been fashioned by the nostalgic photographs of Slim Aarons and, more recently, by the highly sought-after Juergen Teller. Marie-Louise Scio uses this recipe bathed in mystery and the mystical dolce vita to convey the very individual spirit of Il Pellicano hotels. Surrounded by a team of creatives, she manages the design and also the strategic marketing from the Italian capital. Totally unpretentious, tasteful character, full of charm that lives and breathes Italy, as we find in her home. Relaxing on crushed raspberry velvet, Marie-Louise Scio welcomes us in her bare feet, her skin caressed by the morning sun. At that moment, we are not far way from the legendary landing stage at Porto Ercole. We just need to close our eyes. Guided tour.
Marie-Louise, please can you introduce yourself?
I am a 40-year-old mother, with a degree in architecture, and I am the manager and artistic director of the Pellicano group of hotels.
How did you learn about architecture and design?
It began with my studies. I graduated in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design.
What do you do each day?
My day starts very, very early! I get up at 5:30 am, I do some meditation, yoga and gymnastics. When I am in Rome, I go to the office at eight in the morning and stay there until six or seven in the evening. I am in charge of the design and strategic marketing of the hotels in the Pellicano group. It’s a full-time job.
Which part of your working day do you like most?
The more creative part, naturally! I like to organise events, I take care of the menu details, and I even manage the music. In effect, everything involved in the orchestration of our clients’ sensory experiences.
How did you come to take charge of these iconic hotels?
Completely by chance! One day, just after I finished my studies, my father, who owns the Pellicano group, asked me to redo a bedroom and bathroom at Il Pellicano (our first Tuscan establishment in Porto Ercole) and I did so. I gradually fell in love with the hotel business. So I completely rebuilt the hotel with the support and trust of my family. One thing led me to another, and I poked my nose into everything related to the creative side, from the visual identity of the hotel to its boutique and the choice of what we were offering for sale.
How is your work structured?
I work all year round. I’d say that in winter I am more often in front of my computer at the office in Rome where there are about a dozen of us. Between June and September, I alternate between Il Pellicano and the Posta Vecchia, the group’s two establishments.
How do you and your team prepare for the season?
Preparing for the season is a team activity that I enjoy enormously. As a team, we have different skills that complement each other. Clearly, unity is strength, and everyone brings their experience to bear.
What is your favourite architectural period?
Brutalism and Baroque, two extremes.
Is there an artist who particularly inspires you?
James Turrell! I like the way he plays with our perceptions. More generally, I appreciate the way artists produce work that makes you think.
How do you plan to develop Il Pellicano?
I would like to safeguard the little world of the Pellicano group for the future. My dream is to continue what my father started. To perpetuate the very special way we welcome guests at hotel Il Pellicano, and, why not, create some new ones.
Can you recommend a restaurant in Rome or elsewhere?
I appreciate the way artists produce work that makes you think.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily