Trying to start an all-inclusive tour company in Italy is the most confusing thing I have ever had the notion of trying to do. Even the commercialista is confused. Don’t even ask me what a commercialista is, but my nearest guess it is something like a business attorney but is not an attorney.
Here’s the idea. I want to show my friends around the part of Italy I keep coming to every year. I want to have you experience what I experience, including learning about new hilltop towns, participating in the olive harvest, pressing olives for oil, helping with the grape harvest for wine, watch how porchetta is made, hunt for truffles and/or porcini mushrooms, and enjoy La Dolce Vita.
I found the perfect 16th-century building to run the tours out of that includes three gorgeous suites and two full kitchens. We agreed on a price and that I can run this business out of there. And then…
The tour company never responded after repeated calls; therefore, I chose another who canceled our appointment to meet with the princess. But there are no princesses in Italy. After two months of trying to pin down a tour provider, it’s still not done. Why? Ferragosto. Don’t get me started. La Dolce Vita.
My next thought was instead of trying to start with too much I would just start as a Bed & Breakfast, so off to the commercialista again. It was determined that I can NOT run a Bed & Breakfast because, here in Italy, you can only operate for 245 days a year, and because I have no long term visa the B & B cannot be in only my name – it needs to be in partnership with an Italian citizen. That’s easy, but due to personal reasons, my partner cannot be in partnership with me legally. The next option is to run the building as a vacation home, but I cannot live in the building. A vacation home means the entire house is available for one party to rent, and like a B & B, it must be shut 100 days per year. And in either case, I could NOT market it in any way in Italy.
So, what am I to do, other than rip out my hair?
The past two days I thought the Italian Love Affair Tours idea was dead. I thought I’ll go back to the United States try to find a job, which at my age is a bleak scenario, somehow magically qualify for an SBA loan to purchase a historical building in the southeast part of the country and start a B & B there. Something like this place built in 1785.
But wait… Are you ready for another loop in the roller coaster ride? We met again with the commercialista this morning who found a way that I, or rather my business, can rent that building as a mini-hotel. No forced la dolce vita style vacations and no anti-marketing requirement. The only way it can be done is with a 6-year renewable lease and at least 1 employee. This is the problem now. The owners only want to rent for 1-year.
In the meantime, I’ve decided that IF Italian Love Affair Tours, LLC continues in Italy that I won’t want to start until March of 2017 because it appears no one travels here after the summer. The last thing I want is more Financial Suicide.