One of the most intriguing new books of photography in the past few years has to be Hotel Il Pellicano, an elegiac new tome about the famed Beautiful’s People boutique resort on the coast of Tuscany featuring the work of a trio of contrasting photographers – Slim Aarons, John  Swope and Juergen Teller. A charming, pampered, posh yet unpretentious mini resort of cottages and suites set in olive groves and overlooking a unique Mediterranean sunset view one hour north of Rome, Il Pellicano, boasted regular guests such as the Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Britt Ekland, Susanna Agnelli and Emilio Pucci. The Queen of Denmark and Charlie Chaplin owned cottages, the latter eventually selling his seaside chalet to Robert Sciò, a savy Roman businessman who would go on become the owner, and whose leggy daughter Marie Louise dreamt up the idea for the book. Aarons, a highly influential image makers whose books are de rigueur in every art director’s library, shot – in his own words – “attractive people, in attractive places doing attractive things.” As Aarons was a regular visitor to Il Pellicano in the early ’60s, the book marks a half-century of insouciant high living, with Teller completing the circle by photographing the new young and rich of the Continent in free-spirited moments last summer. Those of you familiar with the social pages of various European Vogues will recognize Margherita Missoni, Giovanna Battaglia, Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld and Eugenie Niarchos. Also featured are the more intimate portraits of Swope, one of the hotel‘s co-founders, who published the first proper candid celebrity photo book, “Camera Over Hollywood“. “I fell in love with Il Pellicano and thought of buying a cottage. The one I admired most was Charlie Chaplin‘s and when I was lucky enough to be offered the place I went for it. It cost the equivalent of about $100,000, which does not seem much now, but at the time I could have bought a 430 square meter apartment on the right end of Park Avenue, so it did not come for nothing”, a smiling Sciò explained at the book’s launch in the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall in London. Dinner featured some remarkable dishes from the hotel’s Michelin two-star restaurant, from black squid risotto to an uncanny mojito infused sorbet jell. The after drinks in tiny, tony nightclub Momo starred some slick dance moves from Europe’s most beautiful new aristocrat – Tatiana Blatnik, a Venezuelan blonde stunner who married Prince Nicholas of Greece last summer. Some Greeks do have all the luck. Though few more so than those who spend a week in the halcyon hostelry that is Il Pellicano. Buy the book and you shall see.

Godfrey Deeny

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