Have you ever thought of setting up your own business in Italy in retail or in hospitality? If this is one of your goals for 2021 we suggest you read this article as it will give you a general understanding of how to set up your own business, be it a hotel, a restaurant or a B&B.

Despite the idea that Italy might be characterized by high taxation and a rigid labor market, it offers excellent opportunities in sectors such as renewable energy, fashion, food, tourism and luxury real estate. Besides this, Italy is a country which favors small to medium-sized businesses, which make up 90% of Italy’s market. Having said this, if you are planning on moving to Italy to run a company, it is likely that you will need a permit to stay. This does not affect setting up a business per se, but it can have an impact on the future activity of the company-to-be as setting up a company does not provide sufficient grounds to be allowed to live in Italy for more than 90 days. In this sense, non-EU investors need to hold a long-term permit to stay which can be requested from an Italian consulate. However, first and foremost, you should decide what type of business best fits your needs, based on the products or services you would like to offer, personal liability and taxation. Below is an overview of the requirements needed to set up a hotel, a restaurant and a B&B.


If you want to work and invest in the hospitality sector you have several choices: as a matter of fact, you can either register a new company and obtain all the necessary licenses and permits or you can buy an existing hotel and modernize it. However, in both cases you will need to comply with the following:

  • the Labor Law which sets specific guidelines for special working hours for employees;
  • anti-smoking requirements (hotels are smoke-free places);
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points regulations (HACCP) for hotels that have a restaurant and a bar;
  • regulations concerning a suitable waste management system which must follow specific measures on the collection, disposal and storage of various types of waste (solid, organic, liquid);
  • regulations concerning noise in various areas such as kitchen, lobby areas, garages and event rooms;
  • registering with the environmental health department, and implementing the regulations set by the Food Safety Act.

In addition to this, all hotels in Italy must be classified according to the services they offer, and they must also have a number of stars (1 – 5) that determines their level. The higher the number of stars, the more luxurious and expensive the hotel will be.


Before you decide where to open your restaurant, you should conduct market research and determine if you can compete with other existing restaurants. Nevertheless, if you do not want to open a new restaurant, franchising is a good option. The benefit is that you will already be well-known, but the downside of such an investment might be the cost behind it. The next important step is to decide the type of food and services that will be provided.

It is important that you start with a well-documented business plan that can be adapted according to the characteristics of the restaurant. This plan may be composed of:

  • the restaurant concept: the name of the restaurant, brand identity, short and long-term goals;
  • market analysis: industry, competition and marketing analysis, the target market, the existing competitors and an outline of the marketing plan;
  • menu design: this is the most important element for a new restaurant;
  • restaurant design: the aesthetic of the restaurant, the general theme as well as plans for renovation/construction works (if needed);
  • location: the area in which the restaurant will be located;
  • employees: the restaurant management team as well as the number of employees needed to run the business.


  • B&Bs

More and more property buyers are interested in turning houses in Italy into B&Bs. These properties range from old farmhouses in stunning countryside locations to the so called “palazzi” (historic mansions) in charming and quaint small villages scattered around Italy. Many choose to buy a historic building which requires renovation works, and they adjust the layout to meet guests’ needs.

There are over 32,000 B&Bs across the Italy in cities of art such as Florence, Venice, Palermo and Naples which all attract a large number of visitors.

Please bear in mind the following information when setting up a B&B in Italy:

  • as the owner of the property you need to establish your residency in the property where you intend to set up your B&B;
  • you need to make sure that power supply and gas heating-systems in the property comply with safety regulations;
  • you need to obtain the deeds of ownership of the property and its insurance policy;
  • you should outline a detailed business plan;
  • there is a fee to-be-paid that can vary from region to region;
  • your B&B must adhere to the local B&B requirements.


In conclusion, we always suggest examining each investment opportunity carefully in order to choose the most suitable option for you. As real estate professionals we are happy to help you answer any questions you might have so do not hesitate to contact us at info@italianrealestatelawyers.com!





















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