Marie-Louise Sciò and the African saying that commends calm and resilience

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Marie-Louise Sciò, photo © Giada Mariani

A hotellerie icon shares her recipe for family resorts: tradition and identity, an eye for detail and openness to cross-contaminations. In her private life, curiosity and perseverance have taken her a long way.

Marie-Louise Sciò is the CEO and Creative Director of the Pellicano Hotels Group. She, in other words, is the catalyst for the renewed success of two destinations that have featured in the diaries of the international jet set destinations since the 1960s. La Posta Vecchia, a noble residence at Palo Laziale (on the coast north of Rome) previously owned by J. Paul Getty, and Il Pellicano at Porto Ercole, a sought-after refuge on the sea in Maremma. They are joined by the  Mezzatorre on Ischia, which opened precisely the summer before the pandemic hit. But Marie-Louise is also the inventor and the curator of “ISSIMO,” an online publishing and commercial platform, devoted to the excellences of Made in Italy – a digital version of the fabled Grand Tour, an immersive journey into Italy’s culture, taste and “dolce vita.”

Born in London, she graduated in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design before beginning her career in the studio of New York archistar Costas Kondillis, followed by a stint the following year in Italy, alongside Massimo Zompa. From then on – by chance, she claims – she started working with her father (the entrepreneur Roberto Sciò), initially on restoring some of the suites in the hotel Il Pellicano, and then redesigning its communication and corporate image. The results were such that her father couldn’t not “take her on” permanently. From then on, Marie-Louise has known how to capitalise on the precious stories and identities of places, adopting a contemporary hospitality concept in which Italian savoir-vivre, cross-contamination, attention to detail, to people and to the environment are the order of the day.

In this chat, albeit via Zoom, her sunny, open character shines through, as she tells us how coming across the work of James Turrell was like a bolt of lightning; her natural affinities with designers of the calibre of Toyoo Itō and her love of design by the Masters (as in Achille Castiglioni and Verner Panton). Also, and above all, she reminds us of the importance of time, or waiting, the importance of never giving up, of persevering, with this Ethiopian proverb: “Little by little, an egg will walk.”

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Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa, photo © Giada Mariani

How would you introduce yourself to someone you don’t know? Marie-Louise Sciò, quite simply.

Your main character trait? Perseverance and curiosity.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I went through various phases, from criminal psychology to filmmaking, painting, architecture and then, rather by chance, I found myself here.

What makes you happy? Serenity.

What excites you? Love.

Favourite stylist? Julien Dossena, Nicolas Ghesquière and Daniel Roseberry.

Your style? Eclectic.

Define “Italian style.” Timelessness and quality.

Natural affinities with architects or designers? Toyoo Itō, Peter Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron and James Turrell.

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Casa di Marie-Louise Sciò

Your earliest memory of design/architecture? Growing up in Rome, it’s hard to put my finger on an “earliest” memory. The city is so crammed with architecture and art that it strikes you and fills you with wonder immediately. Perhaps the first James Turrell exhibition when I was 20, so different from the art in Rome, helped open my mind to new worlds.

Was the last piece of furniture you bought designed by you, by a craftsman or a brand? My latest purchase was a light by Achille Castiglioni.

Your favourite hotel? Il Pellicano (she laughs) but also La Perla in Alta Badia.

The view that inspires you? The sea.

For you, travel is … ? Enrichment.

Your magic place? Il Pellicano.

A recent discovery? The Calanchi Valley.

Your favourite perfume? En Passant.

Three books you’d recommend to your best friend? How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease (which I’m reading at the moment), Joan Didion’s books, The Year of Magical Thinking and The Wise Heart di Jack Kornfield.

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Hotel Pellicano

Your home is? Rome.

Privacy or conviviality? A balanced mix of both.

Your most precious object? My two Pomellato rings.

A piece of furniture you’d like to have at home? Verner Panton’s chandelier.

Three objects you’d take to a desert island? Headphones for listening to music, a scarf and a book.  

Your take on sustainability is … Being conscious of being part of a very large community that should be respected and protected.

Reuse or recycling? Reuse and recycling.

Your idea of resilience? Never giving up.

A pleasure you’d never give up? Music.

Last time you said it’s “…issimo”? The Calanchi Valley.

A memorable meal? In Orvieto, the other day. Vegetarian.

Your life motto? Little by little an egg will walk.

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Marie-Louise Sciò, photo © Gerardo Gaetani

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Photo courtesy Marie-Louise Sciò

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Marie-Louise Sciò, photo © Roberta Krasnig

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Casa di Marie-Louise Sciò detail

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Marie-Louise Sciò, photo © Roberta Krasnig

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19 January 2022