VILLAS DEL VINO, Italy (AP) When her family’s villas were sold, the owners decided to make it as big as possible, so they built a new one, with a private courtyard and a swimming pool.
The villas are still being built.
But she’s worried about what’s to come, because the problem is spreading.
The average villa is selling for more than $8 million, while many larger ones are being bought up for less.
And it’s spreading even faster in the affluent suburb of Vino, in southern Italy, where the population has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
Vino’s mayor, Paolo Scarpetta, says the city is struggling with the problem because the wealthy people who bought their homes don’t pay taxes and the new owners don’t want to give up the villas.
Scarpettas said the average price of a villa sold in Vino was more than double the price of the average Italian home, even though the average family income is about $18,000.
“This is a problem that has to be solved,” Scarpetas said.
“But it won’t be solved by taking the money away from the poor.”
For decades, Villas Del Vino has been selling out of its new buildings, often at a profit.
The restaurant has been shuttered in recent years and closed down a few times since its last restaurant closed in the early 1990s.
The company is now selling some of the remaining buildings, and the city council has decided to buy all the remaining villas, a move that could cost up to a quarter of the original purchase price.
Villas is still one of Italy’s largest restaurant chains, with more than 1,000 restaurants around the world.
Villa owner Giuseppe Guglielmo says the business is losing money, especially in the Italian market, where sales are up 20 percent since 2007.
But the company is in good financial shape, Guglio said.
Gugliao and his wife, a retired engineer, started the company in 1994 as a small restaurant with a small kitchen.
By 2002, the business grew to 1,600 employees.
Grugliao said the business has grown to more than 300 restaurants, including a restaurant in the capital, Rome, and three in the United States.
Gagliao estimates the number of employees at about 20,000 to 25,000, and that’s without accounting for extra costs such as rent and maintenance.
Some restaurants in Vina del Vina, where Guglo is now based, have even raised prices to compensate for the loss of sales, he said.
He also said the company has invested heavily in its new headquarters, which has a private garden and a roof.
Gaggiolo said he doesn’t know how many other restaurants will be sold because the company will have to keep operating as long as it has a profitable business.
Scarretta said he’s not surprised that the number is growing, given that the business employs a small number of people.
But he said he thinks the problem has been getting worse.
“It’s not a simple matter, because it’s not possible for us to maintain the existing staff, even if we have to sell some of our existing restaurants,” Scarretti said.
The situation is particularly bad for restaurants that serve the wealthy, he added, noting that only about 50 to 60 percent of the restaurants in Villas are run by people who have made it to the top of the social hierarchy.
GAGGIELO: What is the solution?
Scarrettas says he’s considering several ideas, including selling some properties to help pay for renovations, but he said it’s difficult to find money for the renovations without raising taxes or raising prices.
Scaretti said he believes that some of Villas’ owners will have trouble paying the taxes that are due on their properties.
But it’s a lot easier to get rid of them than to give them away, he suggested.
“We don’t have a problem with the rich, we just want to see the problem solved,” he said, adding that he’s willing to consider raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for the repairs.
Scrattas also thinks it’s necessary to increase taxes on businesses that rent out their spaces to tourists, which is a concern in other Italian cities.
But while the city of Rome is considering some of those ideas, Scarrata said it doesn’t have enough money for them.
“The money is not enough,” he added.
“That’s why we have the government, who is in charge of all the issues, to make decisions, but it’s just not enough.”