The Idler Retreat in Umbria with Tom Hodgkinson, Tom Holland and Ros Badger

Saturday 7th October

Unit price


Villa Pia, Umbria

The Idler Retreat

Saturday 7th October to Saturday 14th October

Spend a week idling, thinking and making things in Umbria, with Idler editor Tom, our head of craft, Ros Badger, and Idler Academy director, Victoria Hull.

In a feast for the mind and the senses, we’ll be discussing the meaning of the good life plus we’ll teach you how to make your own personal hand made journal.

This is an opportunity to take a break from the hurly-burly to work out what we want to do with our lives. Tom and Ros will help you to unleash your creativity and take the time to think and reflect. You’ll go home with new enthusiasm and great ideas for living.

Plus: We are thrilled to announce that our guest lecturer, historian Tom Holland will be teaching us about the history of the Roman Empire in two short evening lectures.

Prices are from £929 per person, including all food, drink and classes. Secure your place now with a £500 deposit.

Villa Pia sunset

Villa Pia (5)

We’ll be staying at the beautiful Villa Pia. Villa Pia sits on the border of Tuscany and Umbria on the edge of the medieval village Lippiano. The villa has a swimming pool, tennis court, and table tennis.

Tom Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson will be leading philosophy sessions at which we’ll learn about the great philosophers and writers ancient and modern, from Socrates to Sartre via St Francis who lived nearby. We’ll be applying their ideas to our own lives and most importantly, learning how to take control of our destiny and stop being flung around by the whims or desires of others. This is all about learning how to be free.

We’ll also wander off to be inspired by medieval art and we’ll read the tales of Boccaccio.

Tom Holland, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson ©

Tom Holland, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson

Historian Tom Holland will be giving lectures on the rise and fall of Rome. The story of the Roman Empire is the most remarkable in history. How did bands of cattle-rustlers camped out on hills above a marsh transform themselves into a people capable of conquering the entire Mediterranean, and beyond? And why, having forged their vast empire, did the Romans end up losing their rule of the world?

Tom Holland is a historian of antiquity and the early Middle Ages: author of Rubicon, Persian Fire, Millennium and In The Shadow Of The Sword, and the translator for Penguin Classics of Herodotus’ Histories. His most recent work of history, Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar was published last year. His biography of Æthelstan, the first in Penguin’s monarchs of Britain series, was published last summer.

He is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Making History, and of documentaries on topics that have ranged from ISIS to dinosaurs.

Ros Badger_by_Keiko_Oikawa

Craft genius Ros Badger will be leading creative sessions showing you how to compile your own personal journal, a handmade book using a simple Japanese bookbinding method. Here you can record the week’s experiences or memories using a wide range of simple imaginative techniques.

You will be shown samples and images inspiring you on how to transfer your thoughts onto paper (old and new) and on to vintage linen, sourced from the Villa Pia archives. You can write with the humble pen, print or sew or combine any number of methods to inform your individual project.

There will be access to old bookbinding printing letters for those less nimble with a needle and thread and these can be used to apply quotes or inspiring words from the philosophy and history sessions into your book.

Collected ephemera from the various trips we shall be taking can also be a source of inspiration and added to the journal.

Think of it as a unique scrapbook of ideas and images to remind you of what you have learned and planned for yourself over the week.


The retreat at Villa Pia is all inclusive. You’ll have nothing to do except learn, create, 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 at any time of the day or night. We’ll eat together. Villa Pia’s chefs prepare delicious local Italian cuisine with the care and attention to detail that Italians are known for. All of their ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible.

Trips (please note the trips are still to be confirmed but definitely include Anghlieri, the flea market, Monterchi, a philosophy walk and one of the major centres of Medieval art in the area): 

• Trip to the Commune of Arezzo to see the Piero della Francesca frescoes.

• Philosophy Walk, rambling through the Umbrian countryside we shall discuss the purpose of retreat and the philosophy of St Francis.

• Trip to a local flea market in another stunning medieval hill town, Anghlieri, to find fabrics for embroidering.

• Trip to the medieval town of Monterchi, where we’ll see the Madonna del Parto, the radical painting of a pregnant Madonna, held up as an icon of feminism, by Piero della Francesca.

• Cooking Class. Villa Pia’s cooks are local women who learned to make pasta 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.

• Truffle Hunting. This is an optional extra that we couldn’t resist. Spend a morning ambling in the woods with a local truffler and his dogs and bring back truffles for dinner. We are just finding out the price but expect it to be very reasonable.

Villa Pia (21)


£929 per person if sharing a bedroom (with one other person), and a bathroom shared with one other room

£979 per person sharing a bedroom with ensuite bathroom

£1349 per person, single occupancy if sharing a bathroom

£1399 per person, single occupancy with en-suite bathroom

A deposit of £500 is payable now, the remainder is due on July 10th, three months before the retreat. Call us on 0203 176 7907 for more info 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

The Idler Retreat at Villa Pia is all inclusive, providing you with breakfast, lunch and dinner plus the freedom to help yourself to bowls of fresh fruit, coffee, tea, alcohol and soft drinks at any time of the day or night. Villa Pia’s chefs prepare every meal with the care and attention that you would expect from traditional Italian cuisine, and all the food is locally sourced wherever possible.


All tuition, talks, lectures and trips

All craft materials

Dinner for six nights out of the seven including wine. This leaves one evening free to explore as there are wonderful places to eat and drink nearby in 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.


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

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


We recommend the following flights for which we will arrange transport between Florence and Villa Pia:

Saturday 7th October 2017

Vueling Airlines, Luton to Florence, Dep: 13.45pm Arr: 17.05pm

Saturday 14th October 2017

Vueling Airlines, Florence to Luton, Depart 11.30am arrive 13.05pm

Transport between Florence and Villa Pia will cost around £20 each way per person depending on our numbers. We’ll let you know when numbers are confirmed. Your ticket fare will be collected on the bus.

Other options:

London City to Florence:

Saturday 7th October Depart 06.45 am arrive 10.15am

Saturday 14th October Depart 10.55am arrive 12.15pm

There are also flights to Pisa and Bologna. The journey to Villa Pia is longer but there is more choice of departure airports and flights.

You can also travel under your own steam and get to Arezzo by train. This is only 20 mins from Villa Pia and there are plenty of taxis outside the station, cost approx 50€

We strongly recommend that you take out health and travel insurance before travelling.



7th October to 14th October 2017


Villia Pia, Lippiano, 06010 MSM, Tiberina (PG), Umbria, Italy

To Book

Just click buy now or call Kathleen in office hours on 0203 176 7907 with your credit card details.


£500 deposit payable now


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