Porto Ercole


Maremma comprises a region in southwestern Tuscany. As its name (mare or “sea”) implies, the area runs along the coast from Capalbio in the south to Grosseto in the north. Think of it as the pearl of the Tuscan coastline.


Located between Florence and Rome, the area has long been a vacation destination for wealthy Italians. Its harbors are dotted with yachts, its towns with Tod’s. 


When he was exiled by the Pope in 1610, the painter Caravaggio died of malaria in Porto Ercole while en route back to Rome. But it’s hard to imagine anyone ailing while being in Porto Ercole. It is a haven in every sense of the word. 


The town is on a peninsula connected to the mainland by three narrow strips of land (from space, the landmass would look more like an island than a peninsula). Drive through a national park, then down a winding, tree-lined road on the promontory’s southeastern tip to Hotel Il Pellicano, a cliffside resort that demonstrates everything that is right and true about hospitality. 


Il Pellicano is a treat for foreign jet-setters and in-the-know Italians. Its namesake restaurant, commanded by Antonio Guida, was awarded two Michelin stars in 2010. But like all great artists, Guida appreciates the beauty of simplicity, as demonstrated in lunches at the Pelligrill. The scent of jasmine and lavender follows you down the stone walkways to the lunchtime barbecue. The tables on the stone terrace overlooking the Tyrrhenian are perhaps my favorite place to eat.


There is little to “do” at Il Pelican beside eat, relax, and play the odd game of tennis. Simply enjoy and fall into a meditative state.