Quality construction, good looks, but potentially costly to repair if it breaks. A few quirks but capable of making excellent espresso once you get to know it.
Positive Product Points
Beautiful machine with powerful steam pressure, heats up quickly, large capacity.
Negative Product Points
Difficult and expensive to service, controlling steam for micro-foam difficult.
I bought this Pasquini Livia 90 Semi Automatic from an EBay auction at a very good price. I had the machine sent to New Orleans (where I am working for an extended period of time) where it waited for a few weeks until I arrived. The machine was a little dirty (not terrible) so after getting it all wiped down I decided to backflush it as instructed with the cleaning powder the previous owners had included (it was the proper cleaner from Pasquini). Here is where things went very wrong. The machine immediately started leaking water in large volume. After removing the outer shell (very easy to do), I did another back-flush to see what was going on, and was greeted with a massive blast of steam and water from the pressure relief valve on top of the boiler--big problem. To make a long story shorter--Pasquini recommended a local shop, where the machine spent the next three months undergoing one repair after another. In all, $375 worth the fixes. Apparently (the theory is) the previous owners had left it in storage with water still in the boiler. The water froze, cracked something, and damaged the machine. Happily, the sellers paid for the entire repair bill.
Now, with a working machine I am finally making coffee. First, I have to agree with other reviewers that the 4-hole steam wand tip does not offer sufficient control for getting good microfoam--it's difficult to get a good swirl in the milk and I can't seem to hit that sweet spot to foam properly. The milk takes about 30 seconds to hit temperature so there isn't much time to goof around. I'm going to look into alternative tips (or try the toothpick suggestion in one of the steam holes)
I'm still working on dialing in the proper grind and tamp to get good crema consistently, though I'm getting closer. I was grinding for a La Pavoni while the Pasquini was in the shop, and the Pasquini seems to like a slightly coarser grind. Preheating the portafilter seems to help a bit. I'm using beans from Cafe Artigiano in Vancouver--once I get through those I'll experiment with some others. All told, I'm just happy to have a working high-end machine at ultimately a good price. I'll report back after using it for a few months.
The eBay seller packed and shipped just fine, however they should have tested the machine before putting it up for sale, as it was damaged and ended up costing them $ and me a lot of trouble.
Three Month Followup
Having used the Pasquini for a few months now I can say that while the steam tip is not ideal I can manage to get good micro-foam, though you have to be quick. I do notice that from time to time the grind has to be tweaked, but I assume that is more from climate than any mechanical reason. This was a used machine, and needed some repairs. The repair place never could get rid of a small drip from the top of the boiler fitting, but once it is at pressure this goes away. I return to Los Angeles in a week and it will go to Pasquini for a final look over to fix that and anything else they find. I may also replace the steam tip for the new swivel model at that time as well. Overall, still happy with my purchase.