La Dolce Vita Retreat with Kamin Mohammadi and Henry Eliot

Villa Pia on the border hills of Umbria and Tuscany
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10 in stock

September 12th – September 19th 2020

Spend a week living La Dolce Vita and learning about Italian literature. Henry Eliot, author and editor at Penguin Classics, will take us through the greatest books of Italian literature and show how they are infused by the concept of La Dolce Vita. Kamin Mohammadi, journalist, magazine editor, and author of La Bella Figura, will show us practical ways to live the good life the Italian way.  Idler Academy director Victoria Hull will be your host.

Kamin will lead sessions on La Bella Figura, her philosophy of slow living and quality ingredients – perfect for idlers. Author and journalist Kamin is also an olive farmer in Tuscany, a Master of Olive Oil, a yoga teacher and a Reiki practitioner. She’ll give an olive oil tasting, we’ll visit a local olive press, and she’ll lead yoga sessions throughout the week.

Henry will deliver wide-ranging and entertaining talks, surveying the entire history of Italian literature, from Rome to the Renaissance, Romanticism to the Risorgimento, Modernism to Post-Modernism. We will cover all the greatest Italian authors, including Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Manzoni, Svevo and Calvino, and look at how the concept of la dolce vita, or ‘the good life’, has been treated in Italian literature over the years. There will be some light, optional pre-reading, and lots of suggestions for further books to explore.

We’ll visit Sansepolcro, the birthplace of Piero della Francesca. Sansepolcro has lots of Piero frescoes including ‘The Resurrection’ which Aldous Huxley called the greatest painting in the world. The painting was the reason that the Germans did not bomb Sansepolcro in the second world war. Sansepolcro’s cathedral has a beautiful Perugino painting.

We’ll also take a trip to Anghiari, one of the most beautiful hill villages in Italy. We’ll visit the museum dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Battle of Anghiari’ and drop in on the lovely local Busatti linen shop. We’ll visit a local olive press where we’ll see how olive oil is made.

Plus there’ll be a foraging Walk. We’ll go rambling through the Umbrian countryside with a local expert, and we’ll identify and pick wild local food, berries and many wild salad plants and herbs.

We’ll also take a long walk to the local village of Monterchi to see Piero della Francesca’s Madonna Del Parti.

[Please note the itinerary may change slightly.]


We’ll be staying at Villa Pia, which sits on the border of Tuscany and Umbria on the edge of the medieval village of 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.

Sunrise at Villa Pia

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 Pierro della Francesca’s ‘Madonna del Parto’ in Monterchi. Photo by Yvette McGreavey

About the Tutors

Kamin Mohammadi

Kamin Mohammadi is a writer, journalist, editor, broadcaster, yoga teacher, Reiki healer, massage therapist/bodyworker 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 (both published in UK by Bloomsbury). She has run Bella Figura workshops in the UK, Bali and Pakistan. Find out more at her website:


Henry Eliot

Henry Eliot is the author of The Penguin Classics BookFollow This Thread and Curiocity: An Alternative A-Z of London, which Philip Pullman described as the ‘most ingenious, insightful, inspiring, intoxicating, and simply interesting guide to the great city that I have ever seen.’ He has led guided walks for the Idler as well as Google, the National Trust, City Lit and the cheese shop in Leadenhall Market, and he is one of the editors of the Penguin Classics series.

The gardens at Villa Pia

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 to fresh fruit, coffee, tea, alcohol 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.

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

Truffle Hunting. Spend a morning ambling in the woods with a local truffler and his dogs and bring back truffles for dinner. Price around 70 Euro including transport.


View over Umbrian hills. Photo by Yvette McGreavy.


£1,199 per person if sharing a bedroom (with one other person), and a bathroom (shared with one other room)

£1,249 per person sharing a bedroom with en suite bathroom

£1,399 per person, single occupancy if sharing a bathroom

£1,459 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.

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 a palazzo in the village .

For more information about any part of the holiday please call Percy on 0203 176 7907.


You can get to Arezzo by train. This 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. Our nearest station is Arezzo, a short train ride from Florence. Click here.

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, coronavirus, 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.