Discover Marie-Louise’s favourite places around the Pellicano Hotels
Plotting a trip to Italy? Excellent choice. Even more excellent, though, would be deciding to stay at our three hotels – Il Pellicano, Mezzatorre and La Posta Vecchia. Serving up perfectly blue Mediterranean waters and sunny vibes, timeless appeal and beautiful settings, our real-life extensions are the ideal launching pads to explore some of the boot country’s prettiest shores.
To help you plan your next visit, we asked our CEO and Creative Director Marie-Louise to share her favourite places, restaurants, and attractions for each. So read on, add her recs to your Google Maps, and get ready to have the best time on your next vacation.
La Posta Vecchia & Palo Laziale
Despite being so close to Rome, Palo Laziale, home to La Posta Vecchia, feels like a world away from the Eternal City to me. Quaint borghi (small villages) and pretty beaches are the word of the day here, alongside wild nature, historical landmarks that will transport you back in time, and restaurants so good you’ll want to come back for seconds.
Rich in history, the area is a bit of a treasure trove for anyone into Italy’s storied past – myself included. Every time I come here, I pay a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cerveteri, one of the most important Etruscan centres, and its Necropoli della Banditaccia, a veritable city of the dead with streets of tumuli dating from the 7th to 5th centuries BCE.
The 14th century Castello di Santa Severa (Santa Severa’s Castle), which was built on the remains of an early mediaeval garrison is next on my list, and one of the most evocative places in the Lazio region. Looking for more palace-like wonders? Then the majestic Castello di Odescalchi (Odescalchi Castle), on the southern shore of Bracciano Lake is just the thing. Built by the Orsini family around the end of the 15th century, it looks like an impenetrable fortress from the outside, and it’s one of the most beautiful and imposing Renaissance mansions in Europe.
“Beautiful Italian village” vibes can be had in Tolfa, a picturesque mediaeval borgo composed of tiny, meandering alleyways and even tinier squares that deliver breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside (on a clear day, you can also see Rome and the Apennines from its belvedere). Stroll, snap a photo of the Palazzaccio (the former city hall), then inquire about buying a house here (ok, not really, but you’re very likely to fall in love with this town, like I have).
For your last stop, consider Anguillara Sabazia, an equally charming little village with a beautifully preserved historical centre. Come around sunset, and watch the sun go down over Bracciano Lake. It’s one of my favourite ways to end a day in the area.
When I’m craving seafood, I go to Equo Risto. Great fish dishes, great wine list, and a nod towards sustainable sourcing and fishing: this spot ticks all the boxes for well-done, well-thought modern Italian cuisine. Joya Restaurant is a very good option too and does fantastic crudo platters in slightly elevated settings. For the best zuppa di pesce (fish soup), nothing beats L’Isola del Pescatore, in Santa Severa. Go try it, then let me know what you think!
For a more informal experience – also fish-based – La Paranza is another personal favourite. It is both a fishmonger and a restaurant, peddling mostly fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Choose from the menu or directly from the counter, then prepare to be blown away by the freshness of it all.
More of a meat eater? Go to Manzo Steakhouse. An institution in Ladispoli since 2012, it serves on point steaks (obviously) but also homemade pastas and a good selection of fish and other meats, to satisfy every palate. I like to order a bottle of vino to pair with the meal for the entire table – I recommend you do the same.
Lungomare Marina di Palo, Ladispoli
Viale Mediterraneo, 1 Ladispoli
L'ISOLA DEL PESCATORE
Via Cartagine, 1 Santa Severa
Via Filippo Moretti 27, Ladispoli
Via Milazzo, 1 Ladispoli
When I want to venture out of La Posta Vecchia for a sun-soaked afternoon, Scorpion Beach is the place. Sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Bracciano, it’s a beach club offering sunbeds and ombrelloni at reasonable prices, plus a very nice restaurant and bar – perfect for an aperitivo alfresco. I also really like Malibu Beach Club, in Marina di Palo. Besides the sunbathing facilities, they do good food and cocktails in chilled, unpretentious settings.
Il Pellicano & Argentario
You might be tempted not to leave the premises of Il Pellicano (I don’t blame you: I find it difficult as well!), but if you do decide to venture outside our perfect slice of heaven, there’ll be plenty to keep you busy – and your belly full.
Where to begin…I love going to Orbetello, a one of-a-kind seatown found on a thin strip of land stretching out into the middle of the very lagoon from which its name is derived. A former Etruscan settlement later controlled by the Romans and, in the Middle Ages, by the Aldobrandeschi family, it’s a lively little spot to while away an afternoon, and it boasts breathtaking views of the Monte Argentario coast. Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano should also be on your list: the first is an old, charming village on a hill above the bay, surrounded by four forts and a tower – the sixteenth-century Forte Filippo, the Tower of Mulinaccio, the eighteenth-century Forte Santa Caterina, Forte Stella, built by the Spanish in the shape of star; and the Rocca Aldobrandesca – while the second is the largest seaport town of Monte Argentario, and a bustling destination among the yachting set.
Carved from volcanic stone, the borgo of Pitigliano is equally beautiful, though in a completely different way: think mediaeval walls, cobbled streets, and picture-perfect piazzas. I come here to breathe a little bit of history and embrace slow town living.
Want an altogether different experience? Then it’s Il Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden) you should be eyeing up. A sculpture garden based on the esoteric tarot, it was created by the French American artist Niki de Saint Phalle in Pescia Fiorentina, and it’s truly a sight to behold, blending art, nature and spirituality all in one place.
There are too many restaurants worth mentioning in this area – Maremma is famous for its fantastic food and culinary excellences, so a full list of favourite places would likely fill the pages of a book. One of my go-to in Porto Ercole is La Sirena, the ideal spot to taste typical dishes and seafood specialties, with fish that’s always fresh and great wines to boot. For more seafood (you’re on the coast after all), Da Braccio is a relaxed beachfront restaurant in Feniglia that also does delicious pasta dishes and seriously addictive homemade desserts; while Il Tramonto adds pizza and cocktails to the offerings – not to mention stunning sunset views.
Fine dining is at Le Chicche di Cala Moretta, while traditional fare can be found at Il Moletto, which has been running since 1955 – both are in Porto Santo Stefano, and a must-try. More laidback vibes can be found at La Mi Casa (get a sidewalk table) and La Bersagliera, both in Orbetello. The latter is a pizzeria, for when I want something other than fish.
If you’re looking for classic Maremma cuisine, then both Petronio and Il Tortello are excellent choices. They’re a 30-minute drive from Il Pellicano, but so worth it.
Via Caravaggio, 89 Porto Ercole
LE CHICCHE DI CLA MORETTA
Via Panoramica, 154 Cala Moresca
LA MI CASA
Via Vincenzo Gioberti, 100 Orbetello
VIA Camerone, Marsiliana
Strada Provinciale della Giannella, 233 Orbetello
Molo della Sanità, Porto Santo Stefano
Via Roma, 18 Orbetello
Str. dell’Abbadia, Pescia Fiorentina
You’re in Tuscany, so wine tasting is a must – and Le Mortelle is the place to go for it. In the heart of Maremma, near the town of Castiglione della Pescaia, this Antinori family’s estate is both a perfect spot to try some great wine and a sight in and of itself, thanks to its gorgeous vineyards and idyllic surroundings. Book your visit, learn about tannins and local viticulture, then buy yourself a few bottles to bring back home.
The next day do more of the same at Tenuta di Monteverro, at the foot of the small mediaeval town of Capalbio. Straight out of a movie set, this vineyard extends over 60 hectares on three hills rising from 30 to 80 metres above sea level, which gives its wine a truly unique flavour. Want to hit the beach? Head to La Capannuccia. Located between Argentario and Feniglia Natural Reserve, it’s got a lovely restaurant, too, meaning you can spend the entire day here (I do).
Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa Ischia
Wild and lush, Ischia is one of southern Italy’s greatest natural and cultural treasures. Besides its beaches and azure waters, there are natural thermal springs and notable landmarks, museums and manicured gardens – but also hiking paths, vineyards and delightful villages. Ready to explore?
No trip to Ischia would be complete without a visit to the Castello Aragonese (Aragonese Castle), a mediaeval castle that stands on a volcanic rocky islet connected to the rest of the island by a causeway. Built by Alfonso V of Aragon in the mid-14th century, the fortress offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the island, as well as providing a dramatic addition to the landscape. In its past, it was home to some 2,000 inhabitants, as well as a prison in times of conflict. My tip is to visit with a guided tour – you’ll get so much out of it, and really get to know the secrets of this place.
For an extra dose of culture, make sure to also check out the Museum of Santa Restituta in Lacco Ameno (below the Basilica of Santa Restituta) and the Villa Arbusto Museum in a charming panoramic position on the hill square of Santa Restituta. Both hold a variety of relics from the Greek-Roman times and are further proof of Ischia’s incredibly rich and ancient history.
Another thing I love on the island is the clutch of Saracen watchtowers built along the coastline centuries ago, the most famous of which is the Torrione, in the seatown of Forio. Do pay a visit.
Lastly, do not miss Giardini La Mortella (La Mortella Gardens). A subtropical and Mediterranean garden created by Susana Walton, the Argentinian wife of British composer Sir William Walton, it’s a wonderful oasis of trees and flowers from different parts of the world. I love coming here when it’s cloudy, or in the evenings, when classical music concerts are held among the foliage. It’s a dream.
Umberto a Mare has been feeding Ischia residents and visitors alike since 1936 and continues to be one of the most delectable spots to eat on the island. Its splendid position helps: set on a terrace overlooking the sea, it’s a scenic destination for a romantic dinner. DaníMaison di Nino Di Costanzo is where I go to splurge – but also to have a truly outstanding gastronomic experience – while Saturnino, on the steps that lead down to the port of Forio, is the place for a relaxed evening with friends. Established in 1949, it serves dishes inspired by the area’s maritime history but reinvented in a creative way, and boasts a wine menu with over 220 international and local labels.
Away from the seaside, I also like La Vigna di Alberto, a picturesque restaurant set on the hills in Barano d’Ischia, It’s a bit of a hidden gem, and the views are fantastic.
UMBERTO A MARE
Via del Soccorso, 8 Forio
Via Soprascaro, 17
Via Montetignuso, 4 Ischia
LA VIGNA DI ALBERTO
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 87 Barano D’ischia
From a boat trip around the island – an absolute must! – to hiking Mount Epomeo, Ischia’s highest peak, there’s plenty to keep outdoor types entertained on the Green Island. Fancy something a little more chilled? Visit one of Ischia’s many vineyards and do a tasting, or spend the day at Club Scannella, which is set within Ischia’s rocky coastline and can only be reached by walking down hundreds of steep stairs or by a short boat ride from nearby Sant’Angelo. Alternatively, try Giardino Eden Ischia, another fantastic beach club with Aragonese Castle views.
Fancy a day at the spa? Try Fonte delle Ninfe di Nitrodi. It touts to be the oldest spa in the world, and offers a range of wellness offerings based on its natural thermal springs. It’s a real treat.