Marie-Louise Sciò’s Insider Guide to Italy

Coinciding with the launch of episode 5 of our travel podcast, The Upgrade, we’re sharing Marie Louise Sciò’s insider recommendations to one of our most beloved holiday haunts: Italy.

Alongside a healthy serving of staycations, we're hoping to squeeze in at least one proper summer-holiday getaway. Forget "IT" destinations and countries reinventing themselves to become the next hotspot, summer 2020 is all about supporting the places we know and love. We're swapping the shores of Albania for the Amalfi Coast, and Tunisia for Tuscany. We're a nation of Italipholies and we're hanking for a taste of la dolce vita.

As our travel plans and daydreams become saturated with the allure of Aperol and aperitivo, we've called upon the creative brain behind some of Italy's most famous hotels: Marie-Louise Sciò. The CEO and Creative Director of the Pellicano group, Marie-Louise is the don of Italian recommendations, in particular those lesser-trodden corners of Tuscany where you'll find the tastiest plates of pasta.

Having just launched her new digital platform, ISSIMO, she's also letting us in on how we can invite Italy into our homes. With its curation of Italian products - some from artisans, some directly from the hotels - as well as tips, recipes and one-off collaborations, ISSIMO is just the ticket to embracing a constant state of travel and deep-diving into Italy.

Where to see and be seen: Marie-Louise Sciò's insider guide to Italy

There's no-one better to help us plan our next trip to Italy. Share with us some insider tips for our next trip to Tuscany, including the best places to eat, drink, visit and shop.

Eat: Da Petronio for gnocchi pappa reale.

See: Castello di Ama: an extraordinary site and an amazing art collection.

Shop: Loretta Caponi in Florence.

What about in Rome?

Eat: Da Enzo al 29

Shop: Atelier Bomba and Sartoria Giuliva

See: the Pantheon and Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Where should we go for pasta?


What about pizza?

Emma in Rome.

… and for aperitivo?

Piazza Farnese

To drink?

Jerry Thomas Speakeasy

… and to dance?

I'm more for house parties

What if we're planning an Italian road trip? Where should be on our itinerary?

From north to south: Modena, Bologna, San Casciano and Spoleto.

Let us in on an under-the-radar Italian destination.

Ischia. It has so much to offer: beaches, relaxation and wellness, great food, hearty mountain cuisine, a notable wine scene, a variety of limoncello, bustling seaside towns, amazing fishing villages, a lively nightlife. The list goes on!

You could visit the Nitrodi hot springs; Giardini La Mortella, the Mezzatorre Hotel and Thermal Spa, of course, the Castello Aragonese, la Scarrupata for lunch (you can only get there by boat), Ceramiche Mennella, La Vigna Di Alberto restaurant and the Casamicciola Terme in the northern part of Ischia.

Anywhere else in Italy we should have on our radar?

There is so much to choose from. The Tuscan Archipelago in the summer and the Dolomites in the winter.

What about somewhere you haven't been but are longing to go to?

I'm going to Calabria next week - I've never been and I'm very excited! Also Ortigia in Sicily.

Aside from Il Pellicano, where's your favourite hotel in Italy?

La Perla in Corvara.

What about a weekend to reunite with family and friends?

Le Sirenuse in Positano.

We're looking to spruce up our homes, which interior stores do you recommend?

First Bids, and Fela MarketPlace and the Antique Fair in Arezzo

Let's talk about your new venture, ISSIMO. At SUITCASE, we talk a lot about the ways we can travel from home. ISSIMO fits perfectly into this - the platform is an extension of the IRL offerings of treasured hotels. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

It's our new lifestyle and e-commerce site named for the Italian suffix that enhances the meaning of a word - for example, "bello", beautiful, becomes "bellissimo", as in absolutely beautiful! It houses content exploring Italian craftsmanship, culinary arts and culture. There are also Italy-centric city guides, told by fabulous personalities from the region. This allows readers to "travel" virtually, and also gives them a real, genuine account.

Our dedicated shopping section features collaborations and capsule collections with small, niche brands. I wanted to create a platform that gives space and a voice to these smaller brands and artisans; it's a space for them to have their stories told and an opportunity for everyone to discover Italian gems. Overall, I want people to travel deeper and get underneath the skin of Italy, albeit online.

What was the inspiration behind launching it?

It was inspired by things I love and I am passionate about: people, places, fashion, design pieces, our hotels… and Italy! I wanted to put everything in one place where it can be shared with the world.

How can we use it to bring a taste of la dolce vita into our daily lives?

It offers the best of Italy - from culture and stories about the different regions to design pieces that you can bring into your home. Everything on ISSIMO can bring a taste of la dolce vita into your daily life!

And how can we use ISSIMO to bring a taste of the hotels home?

When designing the hotels, I like to source items from artisans around Italy. Some of their wares - such as hand-painted tiles - are available to shop on ISSIMO. We've also done some great collaborations with Italian designers that exude style: timeless and elegant. We just did a collaboration with Lisa Corti, a famous Italian homeware designer, adding the bougainvillea flower to her classic stripe. You'll find these design pieces at Il Pellicano as well as on ISSIMO for those after a touch of colour. Our Fichissimo section is the online hotel souvenir shop, where you can also find some items, such as the famous Il Pellicano ashtray, to bring a little bit of the hotels to your space.

What about dishes that we can recreate to bring Italy into our kitchens?

Our Buonissimo section houses far more than just products and stories! You can find recipes from amazing chefs, such as the unforgettable lasagna from Massimo Bottura, or the traditional Tuscan panzanella by Il Pellicano's chef Michelino Gioia.

Five must-have wardrobe items for an Italian summer...

Loretta Caponi white trousers, L.G.R sunglasses, a white T-shirt, our Dolce Far Niente Birkenstocks and Aquazzura Almost Bare gold sandals.

Finally, what's in your SUITCASE?

Loads of things! Headphones, always a cashmere scarf, a pair of shorts, a white tee and stiletto sandals.

Listen to more of Marie-Louise Sciò’s tips here.