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Bed & Breakfasts in Italy: The case of the Emilia-Romagna Region

di Teresa Branzaglia

Alma Mater Studiorum
UniversitĂ  di Bologna
School of Economics Management and Statistics
Campus Rimini
Second Cycle Degree Programme in Tourism Economics and Management
Relatore: Manuela Presutti
Anno Accademico: 2015/2016

2.2 - The controversial Italian situation in the Bed & Breakfast field

First of all, before analyzing the differences in the regulations of the various Regions, it is necessary to list the key elements that define and distinguish the Bed & Breakfast from the other accommodation forms:

  1. The B&B is not classified as a business (although later we will do some mixed considerations); the law requires it to be exercised only occasionally and/or that the service is ensured by the normal family organization. The New Code of Tourism introduced for the first time the distinction between B&Bs with an entrepreneurial type of organization and family-run B&Bs, but it only gave the definition without specifying their requirements26.
  2. The activity must be practiced in your own home. Some Regions allow the activity to be carried out exclusively in the house of official residence, while others in the usual residence.
  3. The number of rooms that can be put at the disposal of guests is generally limited: most Regions allow to use maximum 3 or 4 rooms.
  4. Operators must meet the hygienic standards to protect the health and wellbeing of their guests: the most widespread concerns the provision of packaged food and beverages for breakfast, without any kind of manipulation.
  5. With regard to funding opportunities, for standard B&Bs it is very sporadic to have the possibility of access to such advantage, while for the entrepreneurial form it is easier (e.g. female entrepreneurship funding).

Let us now review the striking differences among regional legislations in the Bed & Breakfast field (Table 2). Leaving aside the Toscana Region, which only contemplates affittacamere in its legislation, the most evident discrepancy is in the number of opening days allowed; in fact, Emilia-Romagna operators can only run their activity 120 days per year, while in Lazio the limit is 300 days. In Piemonte, Puglia, and Basilicata the threshold was set at 270 days, in Liguria at 210, and in the remaining Regions’ legislations it is not specified, which translated means no limitations.

The number of rooms is the most homogeneous datum, with most of the Regions having set a maximum of 3 rooms to be rented to guests. As for the number of beds, instead, the differences are clear, passing from six, to twenty (in Sicily), to not specified. Only the Regions Piemonte and Puglia regulated also the entrepreneurial form of B&B, giving operators the choice of opening a VAT account and offering more services.

Table 2 Differences among regional legislations

B&B in Italy: the case of the Emilia Romagna - Immagine 2

Another critical issue inevitably raised by the current legislative situation is the fact that most of the Regions decided to prohibit operators of B&Bs to serve any handmade food for breakfast. Operators are therefore obliged to serve only packaged food without any manipulation, meaning it is forbidden to bake a cake for their guests. This clearly makes it difficult to spread the culture of the place.