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Getting Gasoline in Italy

Pauline Kenny

Getting gas for your car is pretty much the same as in the US, but read through this page to see some of the differences in closing times and payment methods.

Gas Stations

There are gas stations all over Italy, but you must remember that many of them close one day a week (like the stores and restaurants) and many close for several hours in the middle of the day. You can actually see a gas station with an "open" sign (meaning it is open that day) but find that it is closed for the midday. The gas stations on the Autostrada are open all day (I do not know if they are open all night).

Gas station in Rosia. 09/99

This picture shows a modern, American style, gas station on the main road in Rosia, a small town west of Siena. You pull in, the attendant pumps the gas. You pay the attendant. Note that in this photo, the station is closed (chiuso - get to know this word, you will see it often).

Gas station in the village of Radicondoli. 06/00

Here is a picture of a very small gas station at the edge of Radicondoli, a small town in western Tuscany. You just pull in and the attendant pumps your gas.

Types of Gas

Rental cars use either unleaded (called senza piombo or benzina verde - "green gas") or diesel (called "gasolio"). Ask the attendant for "il pieno, per favore" (fill it, please).

Be sure you know what type of gas your rental car takes

Be sure you know what type of gas your rental car takes because filling a car with the wrong kind of gas makes it stop working; not right away in the gas station, but after you have driven awhile. You have to be towed to a gas station and then have the tank drained. Don't think this can't happen to you - I have read several trip reports recently where this happened to people. One person assumed the attendant at the full serve station would know what gas to put in, but they didn't. Another person assumed their car took unleaded because no one told him different and it did not say anywhere on the car that it was diesel, but it was a diesel. Usually there is a sticker on your gas tank cover, either inside or outside, that indicates that the car takes diesel, but always ask at the rental agency to be sure.

Diesel Gas

In our experience, the mid-size cars and larger are usually diesel. Our Opel Vectra on our Fall 2001 trip was diesel. The Opel Vectra is comparable to an Alfa 156 in size. On previous trips we have rented smaller cars, comparable to an Alfa 146, and these always used unleaded gas. The larger cars may use more gas, but the diesel gas is cheaper than the unleaded.

Gas Prices

The price of gas is about $5.25 a gallon (summer 2004). According to Cristina from www.expatsinitaly.com, the price in August 2004 is 1.15 euro per liter. Calculating at 3.785 liters per gallon, that makes it 4.35 euro per gallon, which at the August 2004 exchange rate is about $5.25 per gallon.

Self Service Stations

Gas pump.

You will find self service gas stations in Italy. They are usually open all day, even during the midday closing hours. You put a euro bill into the machine and tell it which pump you are at. You do not get change. Here is a picture of one type of machine. This one machine takes the money for several pumps. It has pictures of the bills you can use below the slots where you put them in. The instructions for using this machine are on the small display screen. Another type of machine and a translation of its instructions are shown below.

Italian gas pumps go much faster than ours in the US - your tank is filled in about a quarter of the time. Forget about anyone washing your windshield or finding anything to do it yourself!

Below is a good example of a self-serve pump. They have pictures of the bills you can use beside the slot where the bill goes. This machine is just for one pump, but some are for several pumps and you need to tell it what pump you are at. Here is a translation of the instructions.

(Note: This picture was taken before the change to the euro.)

Instructions - English

Attention:

  • Put in bill to the right.
  • 10,000 and 50,000 lire bills.
  • The maximum total is 90,000 lire.
  • The device doesn't give change.
  • Remove the fuel nozzle from the supply valve only after having selected the desired fuel source.
  • After removing the fuel nozzle wait at least three seconds before starting fuel delivery.
  • Do not put in additional bills before replacing the fuel nozzle in the supply valve.
Instructions - Italian

Attenzione:

  • Accostare la banconota a destra.
  • Banconote da 10.000 e 50.000 LIRE.
  • L'importo massimo di L. 90.000.
  • L'Apparecchio non d resto.
  • Estrarre la pistola di erogazione solo dopo aver selezionato l'erogatore prescelto.
  • A pistola estratta attendere almeno tre secondi prima di iniziare il rifornimento.
  • Non introdurre altre banconote prima di aver riposto la pistola nell'erogatore.

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