I don't know if I'm more in love with the story about the hotel's evolution or the tales of bronzed jet-setters drinking limonata by the saltwater pool, but I do know, I am going.Known for luring those who love "barefoot luxury", Il Pellicano has been a sought out destination in Porto Ercole since the early 60's.
The hotel's founders, American glass heiress Patricia and handsome British aviator Michael Graham (above), met by fate at a Beverly Hills soirée one evening in 1952. Just a few years prior, Michael earned the nickame "Crash" after miraculously surviving the crash of a Pan Am Clipper in the Syrian desert. (The crash killed 14 people, many burned beyond recognition). Taken by this heroic gent, Patricia, (who was married at the time to a WWII pilot), tore the New York Times article out of the newspaper for safe keeping. Fast-forward two years after the fabled crash and Patricia (now a widow), and her heroic Michael become mutually enchanted with each other and marry. Fairytale? I think so.
After they settled down at a large estate on Pelican Point Road in Marin County, the couple started looking for an European escape, ultimately shaking hands with Prince Alessandro Borghese on a plot of land in October of 1962. Initially, they wanted to keep the location private as a celebration of their love and the surrounding Tuscan coast, but later decided to invite their glamorous friends and respective families to relish in its magic. The vintage photos below reflect the hotel in its true glory, a quiet playground by day for those that desired to spend their afternoons engrossed in a game of backgammon adorned in silky kaftans, wet bathing suits and straw hats. In the evening, the hotel glittered with sun-kissed guests recounting tales of their travels over cocktails and music. Today, the hotel is a Relais & Châteaux property continually regarded as one of the most unique, romantic resorts in the world.
...So who is coming with? Just so happens I found an idyllic seafront villa to enjoy after our stint at Il Pellicano. Ciao!
Photographs by Slim Aarons and John Swope from the book, Hotel Il Pellicano.