In Central Italy, a Dance Get together By the Sea


In 1960, the American-born oil tycoon J. Paul Getty bought his dream trip dwelling in Italy. He may have opted for a palazzo in a bustling resort vacation spot like Portofino or Capri however, maybe unsurprisingly, given his obsession with historical Rome — his assortment of artifacts from the period included uncommon bronze statues and priceless friezes — Getty, who died in 1976, ended up in Ladispoli, a quiet seaside city simply 30 miles outdoors of the Italian capital. That’s to not say his dwelling there — an enormous villa constructed in 1640 for friends of the noble Orsini clan, who lived within the Thirteenth-century citadel subsequent door — lacked for grandeur. Certainly, at varied factors stretching again to the Roman Empire and up till World Conflict II, when it was bombed closely, this stretch of Tyrrhenian shoreline, recognized for its tranquil seashores and temperate climate, was a premier vacation spot for Rome’s elite. Through the in depth renovations that Getty oversaw, builders unearthed the ruins of a second-century Roman villa, items of which at the moment are displayed within the dwelling’s basement-turned-antiquities gallery, although actually the whole property is stuffed with museum-quality works.

“He would have trains arriving from throughout Europe with antiques,” mentioned Marie-Louise Sciò, the C.E.O. and inventive director of the Pellicano Accommodations Group, whose household bought the property in 1980. “It’s nonetheless one of many largest personal collections of Renaissance items and we’ve stored it virtually precisely as he had left it.” Within the entrance corridor, there’s an 18th-century marble bust of the Roman consul Menenius Agrippa, whereas within the Getty Studio, a sitting room, an intricate Aubusson tapestry depicting a woodland scene hangs on the wall, reverse a Seventeenth-century picket vestry cupboard. Sciò and her three siblings lived with their mother and father in the home for nearly a decade earlier than 1990, when her father remodeled it right into a 19-room lodge referred to as La Posta Vecchia. By the point of the sale, the elder Sciò had been in possession of one other Italian jewel, Hotel Il Pellicano — about 75 miles up the coast in Porto Ercole — for simply over a decade. As soon as a vital summer season stop-off for la dolce vita-era celebrities like Sophia Loren, in addition to Jackie Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin, the lodge was additional immortalized by the photographer Slim Aarons’s Eighties collection exhibiting socialites lazing by its pool and shallows.

Unsurprisingly, Il Pellicano was additionally a spot for events. “There was at all times an excellent excuse,” mentioned Sciò. “If there was an eclipse that you might solely see in Mexico, my mom would throw a celebration.” La Posta Vecchia, too, has seen its justifiable share of memorable nights, however Sciò largely remembers enjoying hide-and-seek throughout them with the opposite kids on the grounds, an expanse of manicured inexperienced lawns, towering palm bushes and completely trimmed hedgerows that felt, she mentioned, “so massive one may get misplaced and disappear for a yr.” Lately, Sciò performs host at each properties (and at Mezzatorre, the household’s third lodge, on the north finish of Ischia) and is equally able to find causes to collect. Not too long ago, a last-minute cancellation meant that, for a complete weekend in early October, La Posta Vecchia was free. And so Sciò, bolstered by newly loosened journey restrictions, determined to host an impromptu soiree for her far-flung circle. “We deliberate the whole factor in three weeks,” she mentioned.

Having determined to maintain the theme easy, she invited her 90-odd friends — amongst them the style designer Haider Ackermann, the decorator Luke Edward Corridor, the knitwear designer Nimi Ponnudurai, the editor Robert Rabensteiner and the stylist Jerry Stafford — by way of a card illustrated with a rendering of an outdated oil portray of La Posta Vecchia and, atop it in neon yellow, the phrases “Let’s Dance.” The thought was to throw a festive Saturday lunch within the lodge’s backyard, full with customized pillows for sprawling out within the sunshine that Sciò had made for the event, adopted by music and dancing. The forecast led her to desert that plan and transfer the celebration to the restaurant’s wraparound terrace, which might permit for a fast escape indoors if the climate turned. However the specter of rain hardly put a damper on the proceedings. The evening earlier than, to kick issues off, there was an intimate dinner within the eating room, with its excessive vaulted ceilings, decorative door frames and arched home windows that look out onto the water.

Sciò, swathed in a body-hugging floral Balenciaga costume, greeted the primary arrivals to the dinner with champagne on the terrace. “It was like a highschool reunion,” she mentioned of seeing mates in individual for the primary time because the begin of the pandemic. “The vibe was actually mild and excited.” Inside, she’d set an extended orange marble desk with bouquets of pale pink dahlias in cut-glass vases, chandelierlike candelabras and miniature olive bushes, which created a cover of kinds above the tablescape. Every place was set with Villeroy & Boch tableware — inky blue with a sprinkling of minuscule gold-colored stars — that Sciò, taking inspiration from the Giotto-painted Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, designed herself for her on-line store, Issimo. The evening’s menu consisted of what Sciò described as “easy and unfussy” Roman dishes ready by the lodge’s chef, Antonio Magliulo: mild and crispy fried zucchini flowers to start out, tagliolini with shaved white truffles or spaghetti with contemporary clams, sea bass with summer season greens and, lastly, a decadent do-it-yourself tiramisu. Preliminary plans to maintain the night relaxed, in order to preserve vitality for the subsequent occasion, had been thwarted when, after dinner, Sciò dragged a speaker system out onto the terrace and began blasting the Supremes, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin.

“Marie-Louise surrounds herself with inventive, loving individuals who at all times come collectively for her,” mentioned Sciò’s longtime buddy Manizeh Rimer (the pair met when Sciò was finding out structure on the Rhode Island College of Design and Rimer was attending close by Brown College). “As a result of they know they’re going to have a blast and depart feeling impressed and uplifted.” Saturday morning, Rimer, the founding father of Jivamukti Yoga London, helped friends recharge with a restorative class. “We did it within the Getty front room, on the Seventeenth-century carpets, and it was completely fabulous,” Sciò recounted. Different friends spent the morning swimming within the lodge’s indoor pool, roaming the grounds or touring the basement museum.

By one o’clock, although, the terrace, which was awash not in rain however a golden late-summer mild, beckoned. Able to reassume her place on the dance flooring, Sciò appeared in sequined bell bottoms, an oversize white blazer and gold metallic striped Yves Saint Laurent platform heels. First, friends grazed on a buffet of knots of contemporary mozzarella sourced from the close by Campania area, spaghetti with caviar and smoked burrata, meatballs with tomato sauce and Parmesan, beef tartare with yolky Béarnaise sauce and caviar, crispy cannoli crammed to order with candy ricotta from Bracciano and a fluffy baba drenched in rum and topped with contemporary berries and swirls of vanilla cream. In the meantime, Il Pellicano’s legendary barman, Federico Morosi, who’d pushed down from Tuscany for the day, combined a few of his signature cocktails, amongst them a tackle a martini made with lime juice and mandarin liqueur, although he tweaked issues right here or there relying on the visitor. “He already is aware of everybody,” mentioned Sciò, “and he remembers what you want and don’t like.”

Additionally there for the occasion was the English D.J. Paul Harris, who started to play perky remixes of traditional songs like Fleetwood Mac’s “Desires” and varied David Bowie hits. “Everybody was so filled with vitality,” mentioned Sciò, who, when pressed, awarded the title of greatest dancer to each Kim Scion, a inventive advisor, and the style designer Andrea Provvidenza, who moved and grooved till effectively after the solar set over the water. It’s a nightly ritual that has little doubt been witnessed and loved by these residing or working on the property because the Renaissance, a relentless that, after the final yr or so, felt particularly soothing. So did a weekend devoted to one thing so simple as enjoyable and togetherness. After so many months aside, mentioned Sciò, “it was an evening all of us actually wanted.” No surprise the group was thrilled when, round 6 p.m., a chef appeared within the doorway, his arms laden with steaming plates of cacio e pepe pasta. It meant they might gas up and keep on. Right here, Sciò shares her ideas for throwing a celebration of your individual.

Sciò was aware that a lot of her friends had been eager to reconnect. “I didn’t do assigned seating as a result of lots of people didn’t know one another, and lots of people did,” she mentioned. “So I simply mentioned, ‘Take a seat and depart an area subsequent to you — and hold it boy, lady, boy, lady.’ I didn’t need it to really feel too pressured, particularly after two years of lockdown. I felt that it was good to offer some freedom. This manner, should you had been dying to meet up with somebody, you might.”

Sciò likes to combine an actual vary of individuals at her events, which suggests totally different tastes, ages and factors of reference. “I at all times wish to play the type of music that works for everybody,” she mentioned. She selected D.J. Paul Harris for his crowd-pleasing collection of remixed classics, which efficiently acquired everybody, from her father to her 20-year-old niece, onto the dance flooring. “It’s the music they know,” she added. “Not oonze-oonze techno, which I really like however understand isn’t for everybody.”

Sciò at all times makes some extent of taking new friends on a tour of a property and is very keen on exhibiting them the mosaic flooring and ceramic vessels on view on La Posta Vecchia’s decrease degree. “My mates at all times make enjoyable of me for simply calling it the basement,” mentioned Sciò, “however I feel it’s fairly extraordinary.” And, whereas most houses would not have their very own antiquities gallery, exhibiting folks round is an efficient tactic for placing first-time guests relaxed and making a type of intimacy.

“I feel throughout lockdown so many individuals both drank manner an excessive amount of or didn’t drink in any respect. So I believed an excellent in-between can be to have natural wines accessible,” mentioned Sciò. Along with Morosi’s signature cocktails, Sciò stocked the bar with Ampeleia, a biodynamic, sulfate-free wine cultivated within the Maremma area of Tuscany. “It makes such a distinction to drink the type of wine that doesn’t make you get up with a splitting headache,” mentioned Sciò.

However be ready for complications, too. “When folks keep over, I attempt to deal with each single element,” mentioned Sciò. This consists of “having Alka-Seltzer placed on the mattress at evening throughout turndown. So, if somebody has a headache, they get up feeling significantly better. It’s an Italian factor.”

“I at all times attempt to guarantee that all of the friends who’ve been right here earlier than have totally different rooms. Each room is exclusive, and I wish to be sure that they’ve a brand new expertise,” Sciò mentioned. Even should you’re working with a single spare bed room, fairly than a 19-room Renaissance villa, discover a technique to make every go to totally different. Strive inserting just a few seasonal flowers in a vase by the mattress or enjoying round with the colour scheme through the use of a unique set of sheets and throw pillows.

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