Gorgeous to look at, and pleasant to live with... if Livia doesn't improve your espresso experience, you're hopeless.
Positive Product Points
The Livia gorgeous to look at and pleasant to live with. My *average* shot quality has improved immensely since switching from the Silvia to the Livia. Livia is also much easier to use, with the exception of milk preparation.
Negative Product Points
The pump is very noisy. I think they either should have done a better job of vibration isolation or found other way of quieting it down. Much louder than my Silvia, and that was pretty loud. As others have stated, the drip tray is too small, and milk steaming can be a problem... it does it so fast that you don't have much time to get it right. I'm getting better at it and am also investigating other possibilities for the tip. It seems like smaller and/or fewer holes would work better with small quantities of milk.
Overall, I'm absolutely delighted with my switch from the Silvia to the Livia. My main reason for making the switch was convenience. Silvia really shouldn't be left on 24/7, Livia can be (although I don't... but I do leave Livia on most of the day). Livia's water tank is much larger, so it doesn't have to be refilled as often. It's much easier for me to make great espressos with Livia... I just pull a blank shot, lock & load, and push the button. 25 seconds later, a great shot, and many many of them are superb, none are bad.
One funny thing about the temperature stability... when I pull a blank shot on the hot machine that's been idling for a while, it first blows out steam and spatters scalding hot water out horizontally for a couple seconds, then the water flows normally from the spouts of the PF, then it STOPS for about a second or two, then flows normally again, almost like there is vapor trapped in the lines somewhere.
It takes about 6-8oz. of water passing through the PF before the flow settles down to normal, so my blank shot is always a big one... and I have to use a cappa cup held right up against the PF to do it, else that water blows all over the place. If I'm not careful doing this, I can get burned. I definitely wouldn't want that mess of temperatures and pressures being used to make a shot. However, after doing that, the shots are excellent and very consistent. Possibly the pressurestat is set a tad too high on mine, I'll have to check that out.
UPDATE: I took the top off and adjusted the pressurestat about 1/8 turn counter clockwise, and it seems to have lessened the hot/steam/spurting problem quite a bit. The shots are still excellent too, so I may try another 1/8 turn.
The finish is easy to keep looking great... a quick wipe with a damp cloth followed by a polish with a dry towel, and Livia looks as good as it did when it came out of the box. And because a blank filter, group brush, and cleaner are all supplied as standard accessories by Pasquini, backflushing is easy to do right off the bat.
Incidentally, the manual is really really nice... full color, on heavy card stock. Naturally, Pasquini supplies a cheap undersized plastic tamper with the machine. Would it hurt these manufacturers to supply a proper tamper?
The quality of all the components seems superior to the Silvia. Even things like the portofilter ... the finish on the casting is much nicer, chrome appears heavier.
I like having separate water and steam wands, although I think they should have made at least the steam wand have a ball swivel instead of just rotating. I have the two drawer base (with a Mazzer Mini on the other half), but if Livia wasn't sitting on that base it would be very difficult to get a 20oz pitcher under there without spilling. I also think they should have put some rubber insulators on the steam and water pipes to make it easier to position them when they're hot.
I'd highly recommend springing for the two drawer base to go with your Livia. It's gorgeous, ties the Livia / Mazzer together nicely, the knockbox drawer is super convenient and could hold about a week's worth of pucks (I empty it and wash it out far more often though because it can get stinky in there), and the other drawer is great for holding all the other miscellaneous junk you need for espresso preparation (thermometers, brushes, blank filter, screwdriver, lots of other stuff).
The cup warmer keeps the cups lukewarm, (which is better than ice cold), but I still heat the cup I'm using for a shot using the discarded water from the blank shot.
I also bought a Pasquini "single" PF, and use it for doubles with the double basket. Since I always make doubles, but make them into a single cup, the spout on the single PF makes it much easier to get the cup in the right place, and I leave the backflush blank basket permanently in the original "double" PF, so it's always ready to use for clear-water backflushing. If it's ready, I do it more often... which is definitely a "Good Thing(tm)". Cleanliness improves your espresso!
I've set up a discussion group on Yahoo to discuss this machine, see:
Join us if you're interested!
I bought from Jim at 1ST Line, and as everyone else who has dealt with him knows, Jim is the best in the biz. The unit arrived on time, securely packed and in perfect condition (no wet box like some have reported), and at a terrific price (not $1035, but I don't want to say what it was, and the form requires putting in a price... check with Jim, he'll make you a good deal).
Three Month Followup
I've had this machine for 8 months now, and other than a defective solenoid (which was replaced by First Line under warranty, and I installed it myself with Jim's help), the machine has continued to perform flawlessly. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.