Il Pellicano – Porto Ercole, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany’s Perfect Coastal Corner

II Pellicano is one of the Mediterranean’s most wonderful seaside resorts, born of a love affair between an Englishman and an American woman when it opened in 1965 with a guest list that included Charlie Chaplin.

While most think of rolling vineyards and medieval hill towns when conjuring up Bertolucci-induced images of Tuscany’s interior, the seaside-savvy will yearn instead for this tiny peninsula in the southwest coastal comer of Tuscany that juts out into the eye-dazzling waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The exclusive 8-acre compound is com­posed of stone cottages scattered down a dra­matic cliff face of Monte Argentario, covered with pine and olive trees around the hotel’s own private cove. Brilliant white umbrellas and deck chairs the color of the water line the stone seawall “beach.” You can dive directly into the sea here, and guests paddle about idly waiting for the afternoon barbecue, held on a shaded terrace.

Despite its relaxed, villa-meets-country-club atmosphere, II Pellicano matches the standards of a much larger world-class hotel. The service is excellent, as are the wine list and the fresh, unstuffy food, with fish straight out of the sea. The rooms are airy, first-rate, and extremely tasteful, and most have private balconies. And every­where are gentle breezes and the vast expanse of the sea.

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