Following our feature in Italy Magazine, a number of people have asked for more information on how easy or difficult it is to set up a B&B here in Abruzzo and if we could share some tips. Firstly, if this is something you are considering doing, you will be pleased to learn that it is not that difficult, but there are a number of fundamental rules that you will need to follow. Every region has different regulations and the following are applicable to Abruzzo.
1. Your B&B cannot be open all 12 months of the year unless you register as a full commercial business with the Camera di Commercio, be registered for P. IVA, INPS and so on. If you close for 90 days during the year as we do, you will be regarded as an occasional business, but you are still required to file annual tax returns of your income. Get yourself a good commercialista who can ensure your returns are filed correctly and advise you on what deductions can be used to reduce your tax liability.
2. Your house cannot have more than 4 guest rooms, with a maximum of 10 persons at any one time and no more than 30 consecutive days for any one guest.
3. Guests rooms have minimum size requirements, but having en suite bathrooms is not compulsory, although most guests prefer them. There are also rules on ceiling heights, kitchen and bathroom facilities.
4. You will need to make an application to the Regione, a process that may take 6 months. Your property will be inspected to ensure that it complies with all the regulations.
5. Unless you have taken the required Food Hygiene course and passed the exam, you can only serve packaged shop bought foodstuffs. This new regulation came into effect in 2019.
6. Every guest must be registered with the Polizia di Stato within 24 hours of their arrival. The Regione has a portal where you can do this and at the same time complete the information required for the ISTAT return, which is also a legal requirement.
7. You cannot employ people if you are an “occasional business”; family members are not regarded as employees. Here is a link detailing all the rules and regulations (although it doesn’t include the new Food Regs) and unfortunately is only in Italian.
8. Make sure you have adequate insurance, particularly for injuries to your guests.
9. Have a good website and brush up on your social media skills or engage a specialist such as Sam Dunham to manage it all for you at a reasonable cost.
10. Online Travel Agents (OTA’s), such as Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Trip Advisor etc., are a means to an end, but beware of being trapped into their marketing and the cost to you in the commissions you have to pay. Our goal is to get all of our bookings to be made directly with us and to achieve a high return rate of past guests.
The above “must do’s” are by no means exhaustive, so please before embarking on a purchase of a property you think may be suitable or open your doors, if you already have a place, contact the Regione in Pescara to ensure that you are doing everything you need to do, as falling foul can result in immediate closure and hefty fines. Running a B&B is not for everyone and whilst we have thoroughly enjoyed our experience over the years, it can be extremely hard work, involving early starts and late nights and a lot in between, which during the summer months can be punishing. The most important thing for us is that we really enjoy doing what we do. If we didn’t, it would be hell! We are not professional advisors and the above information is offered merely as a guide to help anyone thinking of setting up their own B&B. There may be things that we’ve missed, so it is upon you to carry out your own research and seek professional legal and financial advice, as we cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions.