Agritourisms on their knees for the pandemic: “Proceeds close to zero, meanwhile the animals must eat and the fields must be cultivated”

Those who work the land know the unexpected. Floods, hailstorm, earthquakes, sowing gone bad. The unpredictable is often customary. “By profession we are used to everything. But this is something much bigger ”. Cristina Scappaticci manages the farm Royal Valley, in the province of Frosinone. The pandemic it forced her to first stop and then reduce all the activities of her family-run company. Before closing during lockdown national, now the limitations due to the second wave: “By character we do not intend to resign and we will continue to work, despite the difficulties. The hardest thing is there lack of programming: we usually already know how the Christmas time, this year for nothing “.

It will be a Christmas anomalous the one at the gates. Nothing dinners and nothing parties, you find yourself only with closest relatives. Good to reduce the spread of infections, bad for the farm sector. Coldiretti calculates an annual loss equal to over one billion euros, adding the losses of the previous months to the forecasts of collection (reduced if not zero) of the holidays. “The farm allows you to organize meetings that involve the whole family, from children to the elderly, because we have large spaces available”, he explains to Elisabetta Montesissa, responsible Terranostra Campagna Amica, the Coldiretti agritourism association. “For example, we organize a Christmas vigil in the stables, with the animals. They are all contexts in which the number of participants represents the warmth of the event. There can be none of this this year. Sharing will be missing ”.

According to the data collected by Coldiretti, already in the first two weeks of November more than 2 structures out of 3 (68%) have been closed because in red or orange regions. A number destined to grow precisely following the worsening ofsanitary emergency, worsened even in territories considered “yellow”, where the catering was allowed until 6pm. A shot that shakes a system with over 24 thousand structures and that last year generated a billion and a half value thanks to 14 million admissions, of which 8 million and 200 thousand from abroad, according to Coldiretti’s elaboration on Istat data relative to January 1, 2020. The spring months were already difficult: lost Easter e Easter Monday, wedding lunches, confirmations, communions, parties. The owners reacted with the home delivery, both products – to remember that the main activity for a farm is always agriculture – and meals. But it is not always enough and not always necessary, as he says Filippo de Miccolis, owner of the Salamina farm, from the parts of Fasano, in the province of Brindisi: “Mine is a historic structure that has 2 thousand square meters with 20 rooms it’s a ristorante. We are far from the city and the door-to-door distribution of products does not work for us. On the contrary, it went well with e-commerce ”. However, the decline in foreigners: “We usually work a lot with them. Between June and July, however, we recorded a drop of 60-70%. In August and September we recovered, and then another descent. And to say that November and December are important months for us, because there isnew oil. Usually guests come on purpose to attend or participate in the harvest, many from abroad ”. He is especially concerned about theimmobility of these months: “Autumn is usually the time of promotions: fairs, meetings, and so on. All things that will be missing. Usually, programs are now programmed events for next year. But for now nothing is moving ”.

Meanwhile, however countryside Go on. Unlike hotel e shops, in fact, it does not close: “We have animals that they must eat, fields to cultivate. We can’t stop products: we are farms and for us they are the basis of all the work, ”he explains Elena Tortoioli, owner ofIl Podere farmhouse of Assisi, in Umbria. His is one educational farm aimed mainly at children. The Covid deleted all school trips of 2020, and – says Elena – the same will happen in 2021. Christmas has few lights: “We are organizing for the delivery of the meal, also as a gift for the needy. But in a certain sense it will be a Christmas that won’t happen ”. Or a “Natale take away”, as he defines it Diego Scaramuzza dell’Farmhouse La Cascina, in Mestre. He also looked for ways out in home delivery: “Even if for us the delivery it’s not convenient. It has a taxation of 22%, more than double that of the meal at the table equal to 10% “. The worst is to risk throwing away products deriving from the work of months and months: “Sowing, watering, planting: for nothing. I call it a hellish pain. In order not to waste we have opened a small one point of sale in the company and we sell bakery products in the covered markets of Coldiretti “. Also in Veneto Christmas does not bode well, and Scaramuzza specifies: “For us Christmas means from 8 to 31 December, considering not only the holidays but also business dinners”.

Then there are those who in addition to Covid have had to face previous storms. Stefania Grandinetti, owner ofLe Piagge farmhouse, above Monferrato (Piedmont) closed its business – agricultural company and educational farm – on 23 November due to aflood. He reopened it on February 14, to then close it shortly after due to a pandemic. “To understand: last year I made a turnover 143 thousand euros. This year 40 thousand ”, he explains. “And to say that in August there was a good recovery, but the previous events (the flood and the pandemic) forced me to leave the staff at home and I found myself managing everything alone. I was able to accept only half of the requests. My children helped me ”. She too, like the others, responded to the crisis by working: “We joined forces with another local company, not far from me. We divide the labor and we carry out different activities together, from the markets of Friendly Campaign to home deliveries. We wouldn’t have done it alone, together we would. We don’t make money, but we manage to survive ”.

Without the foreigners and without the school activities, the tourist Italian. “Who has rediscovered Italy, between gastronomy, biodiversity and small villages. But it is not enough to make up for the loss ”, explains Elisabetta Montesissa of Campagna Amica. To get out of the jerseys of this period, someone would like one total tax reduction to restaurateurs. Someone else encourages the experiential tourism, that is, what allows you to live specific typical experiences of a territory. For still others, the campaign needs to be valued as a safe place to spend time. Everyone, however, is missing the programming: a lost habit, to be rediscovered.

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