‘Idling at the Villa Pia, with background volcano and Piero D.F. Clouds’ by James Mortimer
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The Idler Philosophy Retreat

Saturday 9 October – Saturday 16 October 2021

Spend a week immersing yourself in philosophy, while idling in the gorgeous Umbrian countryside. We’ll also be taking in Umbria’s famed Renaissance art, visiting its ancient churches and feasting on local produce, all in the company of fellow idlers.

The Idler Philosophy Retreat takes place at the wonderful Villa Pia on the Umbria/Tuscany border. Idler Academy director Victoria Hull will be your host.

Our tutors will be author, broadcaster and philosopher Mark Vernon, Idler editor and author Tom Hodgkinson plus daily yoga with Kamin Mohammadi.

There will be a foraging walk in the Umbrian hills, yoga sessions, as well as a trip to the medieval hill town Cortona.


View of the Pool at Villa Pia. Photo by Yvette McGreavey

The Idler Retreat is an opportunity to spend a week living the good life in beautiful surroundings, away from the hustle and bustle of the workaday world.

Here are some comments from previous retreats:

I don’t think I have spent so much time in the company of so many warm, easygoing souls.  Thank you very much for organising this marvellous week.  You are both the best of hosts.”

“The numbers were just right, the people were great, the organisation was spot on and the balance of activity/idle time was just right!”

“It was a great week of rest, relaxation and learning in a perfect setting. Thank you!”

Prices are from £1,199 per person, including all food, drink and classes. Secure your place now with a £500 deposit.


Detail from Piero della Francesca’s ‘Madonna del Parto’


We’ll be staying at Villa Pia, which sits on the border of Tuscany and Umbria on the edge of the medieval village Lippiano. The villa has a swimming pool and tennis court, table tennis tables, yoga studio and extensive gardens with stunning views over the Umbrian countryside. During the day we run trips, take classes, go for walks and take naps. The evenings are for feasting.

About the Tutors

Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson will lead sessions on idling with a focus on Eastern philosophy

Tom Hodgkinson. Photo by Chris Floyd

Tom will speak on the idling traditions of the East, from Taoism and yogic practices to the work of Lin Yutang and Alan Watts. He’ll give two talks on oriental idling through history and one class which will closely study the Lao Tzu, the original Chinese book which introduced the philosophy of wu wei.

Tom is the author of seven books including How to be Idle, How to be Free and a history of the ukulele. He founded the Idler in 1993.

Mark Vernon will teach us about two seminal texts in Eastern philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita and the Chuang Tzu.

We will read sections of the books together and unpack the key insights, practices and ideas that lie behind them. In this way, we will seek something of the spirit of the Eastern approach to life and find something new,  whether Indian and Daoist ideas are new to us or not.

Dr Mark Vernon is a broadcaster, author and therapist. Mark runs the ancient and modern philosophy courses at the Idler Academy and has filmed several online courses for us. He works as a therapist at the Maudsley Hospital in south London. Mark is a wonderful communicator, with a unique ability to speak on difficult subjects with clarity and precision.

Kamin Mohammadi is a writer, yoga teacher and olive farmer based in Tuscany. She has published two books, The Cypress Tree and Bella Figura: How To Live, Love and Eat the Italian Way. She teaches the Idler online course: How To Live and Eat like an Italian and has run Bella Figura workshops in the UK, Bali and Pakistan. You can buy her single estate olive oil at:

Trip to Cortona 

We’ll visit the beautiful hill town of Cortona, birthplace of the great Renaissance painter Luca Signorelli, where we will see some of his finest works, as well as an Annunciation by the early Renaissance master Fra Angelico.


Tom reads from Boccaccio at the 2017 Retreat

Nothing to do

The retreat at Villa Pia is all inclusive. You’ll have nothing to do except learn, eat, drink, rest and read. We’ll be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner and you’ll be free to help yourself all day to fresh fruit, coffee, tea, home baked cakes and alcoholic and soft drinks.

Wonderful food

Villa Pia’s chefs prepare delicious local Italian cuisine with the care and attention to detail that Italians are known for. Wherever possible, their ingredients are locally sourced.

Fascinating trips

Foraging Walk: rambling through the Umbrian countryside with a local expert, we’ll identify and pick wild local food, including mushrooms, berries and many wild salad plants and herbs.

Trip to the medieval town of Monterchi: We’ll see Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Parto, the radical painting of a pregnant Madonna. Monterchi is a beautiful two mile walk from Villa Pia. If you’d rather not walk, alternative transport can be arranged.

Lunch at a traditional olive mill.

Trip to the medieval hill town of Cortona.

A view of the pool at Villa Pia

Optional Extras

Cooking Class. Villa Pia’s cooks are local women who learned to cook from their grandmothers. They’ll be teaching you to make pasta the traditional way, or to make a dish that you have enjoyed during your stay.  We’ll finish the class with Prosecco. Price around 20 Euro.


Making pasta at Villa Pia. Photo by Yvette McGreavey

Truffle Hunting. Spend a morning ambling in the woods with a local truffler and his dogs and bring back truffles for dinner. Price around 30 Euro depending on numbers.


View over Umbrian hills. Photo by Yvette McGreavy.


£1200.00 pp, shared, en-suite room for 3 people * special deal * there is only one room available at this price.

£1,420 per person if sharing a bedroom (with one other person), and a bathroom (shared with one other room)

£1475 per person sharing a bedroom with en suite bathroom

£1495 per person, single occupancy if sharing a bathroom

£1650 per person, single occupancy with en-suite bathroom

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is payable now, the remainder being due on July 10th, three months before the retreat. Call us on 0203 176 7907 for more information and to pay over the phone. Or click on the button at the top of this page. Please email with any queries and to tell us which type of room you would like to book.


Villa Pia eating
A lesson under a pergola looking over the Umbrian hills



All tuition, talks, lectures and trips.

Dinner for six nights out of the seven including wine. This leaves one evening free to explore. There are wonderful places to eat and drink in nearby Monterchi and Lippiano and pizzas can be ordered in.

All breakfasts and lunches plus fruit, coffee, tea, alcohol and soft drinks at any time of the day or night.

Not included:

Flights and transport to Villa Pia. Where possible group transport can be arranged.

Tickets to galleries.

Massage, pilates, and beauty treatments which you can book before, or once you have arrived.

Truffle hunting.

Cookery lesson.


Numbers will be restricted to the number of rooms. Villa Pia has a total of 24 bedrooms: 12 en suite and 12 with a shared bathroom between 2 rooms. There are also 6 en suite rooms available in the next door castle.

For more information about any part of the holiday please email


We are recommending these flights which we will organise group transport for costing approx €30 depending on numbers.

British Airways Saturday 9th London City 07.05am – 10.15 Florence
British Airways Saturday 16th Florence 11.00am – 12.10 London City

The nearest airport is Perugia but there are no flights on these dates. Our nearest station is Arezzo, a short train ride from Florence. Arezzo is only 20 mins from Villa Pia and there are plenty of taxis outside the station, costing approx €50.

We recommend using the trains website The Man in Seat 61. Click here. Or

We recommend you hiring a car if you would like to explore the local area more.

Terms and Conditions:

• If your booking is cancelled less than 8 weeks before the start of your holiday 100% of the total price is forfeited. Please ensure that your travel insurance is arranged at the time of booking.

• Holiday Insurance: It is a condition of accepting your booking that you have personal travel insurance, including cancellation insurance for medical reasons, redundancy, jury service etc. for all members of your party. Please note that the use of Villa Pia, its facilities, grounds, and swimming pool are entirely at the user’s risk.

Double Vaccination: You will need to be double vaccinated in order to enter Italy and to visit museums.  Please print out your vaccination pass.