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Chapter 11

The opening of our Bed and Breakfast

In May 1987 we opened our Bed and Breakfast.

We chose the name “Villa San Pietro B&B” because we live in Via San Pietro. It seemed something neutral, without thinking of any fancy name.

We had no clue how to attract the clientele we wanted to, but our plan and ideas were very clear to both of us.

We created two large bedrooms with ensuite bathroom and a beautiful living room /breakfast room for a foreign clientele.

I bought an English Guide for B&B in the UK that I still have; I used it to decorate our rooms, I wanted and was obsessed in recreating a warm and cozy atmosphere like you have in England with an Italian twist.

This would have been a side activity for us because we kept having our jobs for an extra few years.

I kept my translation business and, a few years later, when both of my main clients, filed bankruptcy, it came essential to us to have another source of income.

I kept doing translations and teaching a couple of hours in the afternoon.

I have always loved teaching, it’s something that now I use in my cooking classes. Many guests tell me that they can tell I used to be a teacher.

I apply a very strict teaching method also when I show how to make fresh tagliatelle

Those years were amazing.

I loved working from my home office. I did not travel much anymore because Alessandro has always been my priority, and in the previous 7 years I did travel so much, always in a plane going somewhre with my main client..

Jacques was working with my father.

We started the B&B having clear in mind we were strictly interested in a foreign clientele.

This for many reasons, the most important was we wanted to practice English and show our hospitality and make them feel at home, away from home.

This expression is used everywhere now, but we have always meant to offer a home to our guests while they are not at home.

We have never called them clients, they are our guests.

For a couple of months while we were still doing the construction works, we wondered how to advertise the B&B.

I asked my friends in the US and my dear friend Francoise was so kind to give me the address of a friend of hers who would have helped me.

She mentioned the words: internet and website.

When I heard these terms, I had no idea what she was talking about.

Some of you may laugh or smile at me, but it is true, I was 34 years old, I had just started using a computer because, before that, I used a word processor with a memory for 99 files, I did not know what that meant.

Jacques understood better about the internet because, having being part of the Army, he had used some internet in the gulf war and was more familiar than I was.

In town, in 1997, as far as we knew, there was only one person with an internet connection, so Jacques and I went to talk to him and see how it worked.

To be honest, I did not understand much but understood our property could be seen all over the world and this is what we wanted.

I spoke to this lady in Arizona who was a web designer and, using the fax machine, I managed to send her all info so she could start to build a site for us.

I asked in town how much I would have been charged, the reply was: 2 million liras – which is 1.000 euros at present. Can you believe? I was charged 50 US$ to have our first site done in the USA.

Unbelievable!

We got the internet connection and I remember we would be charged by the minute; it was rather expensive, so we would go online, check the mail, then go offline straight away.

When I write this, it seems that I come from another planet or I am really old!

I must tell you I get pretty excited that I managed to learn on my own and I have been creating my own web-sites since 2007.

The connection was created, a few days later she faxed me the info the website was online.

We were so excited, of my gosh, we would have been seen everywhere in the world!

The same day, I remember, she asked us to create an e-mail, she gave us instructions, which I did it, without really understanding it.

That address which I still have and if you use it, I still receive mail, was

annajacques@rocketmail.com

We put our two names together and used this rocketmail email address that I have never heard apart when we read ours, how funny is that!

We did everything on Saturday and Sunday, we went to bed knowing we had our internet connection, our website and the construction works would have been finished very soon.

Monday morning, we got up and I opened the e-mail box, Jacques was next to me because I was afraid to death.

The first times I would use the internet, I was so unsecure. I was afraid I could delete everything if I touched something wrong.

Don’t laugh at me, but I was really nervous and unsecure.

That morning we got online and checked the e-mail.

You will not believe it, but we had our first booking.

It was a couple from Seattle, Washington State. They just got married and that would have been their honeymoon. They were in their 60s.

I remember lots of details about my guests, I just need someone to tell me a detail to start remembering and I will remember everything. She was from Peru and we did speak Spanish together.

We could not believe it.

To be honest, we thought it was a joke.

But it was not.

We started working so well, immediately, mainly American guests.

Our website ranked 1stif you googled “bed and breakfast lake Garda”.

We adored our B&B work, for the first years it was mainly from May to September.

Everyone was wonderful, we loved every single guest.

We used to take photos of each couple for the first couple of years, we still have these albums. We even kept a folder with all emails of our guests thanking us for the stay. It was unbelievable.

An immediate success.

And we would offer the Guest book to each guest so they could sign it, unfortunately in the last years we have often forgotten.

Life was very intense: winter was only translations and private teaching, spring and summer was B&B and my translations.

It turned out to be absolutely perfect.

We had a very good balance, Jacques was working with my dad so I had some help in the B&B.

For several years, we just created a larger clientele and it was going really very well.

Around 1999 , Jacques and I, knowing that it is important to have more jobs to rely on in case something happens, thought about expanding my Father’s line.

By coincidence, we met someone who was in charge of developing botanical skincare and baby care. They used to work and bottle for Oreal as well.

We thought that could have been a very good opportunity for us, because I had lost my main customers and this would have given us some extra income. We started developing our own skincare and baby care line “Anna Carera/Italy.

Only someone crazy like Jacques and I could have thought of selling Italian skincare in America, in fine boutiques and Prime Department Stores.

Because the whole ideas was to sell in the USA.

We have always been crazy, but we did it.


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