Pardini’s Hermitage, a sweet tribute to the simple life.
Pardini’s Hermitage on Italy’s Giglio Island feels like some kind of wonderful secret. Tucked away in a pretty cove, only accessibly by boat, this is a true hidden gem. It is not some fancy hotel or luxury resort. There are certainly no frills. But this is exactly what makes it so enticing. Pardini’s is a simple, yet enchanted family-run guesthouse that has been on the island for more than 50 years, and offers guests the opportunity to experience a slower pace, a sense of peace, and an incredibly warm and generous hospitality in an untouched nature environment. It is so special, we are a little reticent to share the details… but in the nature of giving, here we outline some of the best bits of our recent visit back in June :)
Isola del Giglio is a tiny island within the Tuscan Archipelago (of which there are seven islands, Isola d’Elba being another), just off the Tuscany coast. With a colourful port, wild rugged terrain, and crystal clear turquoise waters, there is boundless beauty to be found. Things are slower here.
Pardini’s Hermitage sits above a tiny cove called "Cala degli alberi" and is only accessible by a 20 minute taxi boat transfer (courtesy of Mr Alberto) from the main port. On arrival, guests are greeted by staff who help send the luggage up a pulley system up the steep hill to the house, while guests themselves walk up a steep rocky path (“La Scala Santa”) through an ancient terraced garden to get there.
It is at Pardini’s that you feel a million miles away from everything. A small and simple house, the Hermitage was built in the early 50s to be used as a summerhouse for the Pardini family. It was in 1956 that they
decided to open up their home to guests. Frediano Pardini, who built the house himself, had come to the island searching for somewhere quiet. He just had a feeling that Giglio was that place. There were no roads on the island in the 1950s. Back then, the ferry only came to the island 3 times a week, once in the morning and back in the evening. Frediano wanted to create a place of "sole e mare in pace e libertà" (sun and sea in peace and freedom). And that is exactly what he did.
Now run with love by Federigo (“Ghigo”) Pardini, his wife Barbara, and their two lovely daughters, the hospitality is warm and genuine. Ghigo is a kind and charming man. Terribly humble, and in his broken English, he will happily share stories of the history of Pardini’s, the island, and life. His wife Barbara can be found in the kitchen. It is a true family affair, and this is what makes it extra special.
The furnishings are simple but cosy, and the service is full of passion and care. There is very little to do, but to enjoy the surrounding natural environment. We spent the sun-drenched days jumping off the rocks into the sea, lying in the sun, reading, snorkelling, and exploring the pretty coves by kayak. There is also a ping pong table hidden under a canopy of trees, bocce ball, and a quaint and charming ceramics studio, from which you can try your hand at throwing some clay. If you feel like exploring the rest of the island, Pardini’s can help arrange a boat for you (there are plenty of pretty coves and lovely hikes to discover). With no TVs and barely any wifi or phone reception, you really are forced to slow down.
You will meet plenty of animals at the Hermitage. With dogs and wild cats roaming freely, and chickens, pigs, goats, and donkeys also living on the property as well. The donkeys were once the main kind of transportation on the island.
With only 13 bedrooms (simple rooms in the main house, as well as some standalone cottages), and no more than 25 guests at any one time, this is a peaceful place. At the time we visited, there were only 4 other guests, so it almost felt like we had the property to ourselves. Rooms are small, but the idea is that you are out more (exploring or relaxing on one of the many terraces overlooking the sea), than you are in.
All meals during your stay are included, and Pardini’s pride themselves on their fresh homecooking. With their own kitchen garden, everything is cultivated in an organic way where possible, and with 40 goats on the property, they even make their own “caprino” cheese, ricotta, and yoghurt. Homemade pasta and bread is also made, alongside fresh fish (from the island fisherman or the fish farms of Orbetello lake), served alongside salads, meat, cheese, and salty and sweet cakes, and different wines and liqueurs. On some special days a barbecue is served under shady pine trees overlooking the ocean. Before dinner, guests are invited to enjoy aperitivo on the main terrace as the sun goes down.
A truly gentle and soulful experience.
Located in the same group of islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea (the Tuscan Archipelago) as the island of Elba, Giglio is only one hour by ferry from the Tuscany coast.
If you are looking for a total hideaway, Pardini’s is the place. This is where you come to slow down; to take time; to allow the soul to rest. This is also where you come for inspiration. It is an enchanted place, and the gentle lazy pace will do wonders for your soul.
Getting to Isola del Giglio is very easy, just a short one hour ferry journey from Porto Santo Stefano on the mainland, by one of two ferry companies - “Maregiglio” and “Toremar”. There are generally about 6 ferries a day, operating from 6am to 8pm.
If you are driving to Porto Santo Stefano, we can recommend leaving your car (you definitely wont need it on the island) at "Parcheggio Fanciulli”, a guarded parking lot, for just €10 per day (depending on the length of stay).
Rates depend on the season, but full board starts from €135 per person, per day (all inclusive), and includes an abundant buffet breakfast, light lunch (buffet), family-style informal dinner with traditional and local recipes, house wine, and aperitivo before dinner. Your taxi boat transfer from the Giglio port to the Hermitage is not included in the rate.
If you like your wine, I would suggest choosing a couple of nice bottles on the mainland and then taking them over on the ferry with you. While Pardini’s do serve wine, it is nothing particularly special, so it could be nice to have a couple of good bottles on hand should you feel like something a little more fancy during your stay.
Address: Località Cala degli Alberi, 58013 Isola del Giglio GR, Italy.