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Shanna Jul 5th, 2009 06:33 AM

Gas station etiquette in Italy
Okay, I'm all set up with a car and biting my nails to the quick. Picking it up at Malpensa, hoping it has a full tank of gas. but . . . then what? do gas stations work like ours in the US do? Can we use a credit card at the pump or do we pay someone first? Pay w/card or cash? Anything funny about the pump, like pushing buttons or pulling levers not normally done here? Will I need to enter my zip code? Also, on a small car would the gas tank hold the same as a small american car? Would mpg (kpg) be comparable? I'm driving 300+ miles - rats - maybe it's kilometers - I'll check on that, but think I may need to get gas during the trip south. I can compute mpg but kpg will probably require paper and pencil. I was able to print a picture of toll booths on the autostrada but haven't found a good site for gas stations or gas use. Any tips, help, suggestions would be so greatly appreciated. Why do trips seem so far away at first, with lots of time for planning, then ZAP! suddenly their upon you and you aren't - I'm not - ready?!

yestravel Jul 5th, 2009 06:45 AM

Most of the gas stations we've used in Italy have been serviced by a gas attendant. They put the gas in the car and u pay them. We've always paid cash, but that has been our preference. There are some stations that are unattended in off hours or Sundays and take credit cards, but we had trouble with our American credit cards being accepted and never could use them. We just were always careful to have enough gas on the weekends. At the gas stations on the autostrada they have great stores selling all sorts of food goodies. Alays fun to go thru them.

The cars we've rented (FIAT puntas and pandas most recently) have gotten really good gas mileage because they have been smaller than our cars in the US. Don't recall how many kilometers per tank. Have a great trip!

bilboburgler Jul 5th, 2009 06:56 AM

If you have gone for the smaller type you will probably see 50 mpg. Bigger cars get worse. You may also find that they run on Diesel (half of Italian cars do). Best not to try and mix the fuels. Normally the filler point has a sticker.

bilboburgler Jul 5th, 2009 06:57 AM

good news 50 mpg equal 80 km per g trouble is they sell litres. Oh hum

Mimar Jul 5th, 2009 07:00 AM

The ever-helpful Slow Travel site has detailed page on this:

HappyTrvlr Jul 5th, 2009 07:05 AM

Make sure you ask what kind offuel the car uses..disal or regular gasoline

Alec Jul 5th, 2009 07:26 AM

Diesel is called gasóleo (while diesel will be understood, pumps are always labelled gasóleo). Unleaded petrol/gas is benzina (or super) senza piombo, usually with green trigger and hose, with a narrow nozzle.
Other than on autostrada and on major roads, most stations are closed for siesta for several hours in the afternoon - don't get caught short. They usually have an automatic pump that dispenses fuel by inserting banknotes or credit card, but don't rely on it. Credit cards are usually accepted at manned stations, except perhaps in out-of-the-way places.

ira Jul 5th, 2009 08:14 AM

Hi Sha,
You will need an International Driver's Permit in Italy. See

Gas stations are almost identical to those in the US. Be sure to get in the correct line.
There will be a staffed station that will accept your US credit card. It is unlikely that you will be able to use your CC at the pump. Don't expect to get fuel on Sunday.

Make sure that you are putting benzine in a gasoline engine and gasoleo in a Diesel. If you mix fuels, it will ruin your trip - if not the car.

50 mpg = 83 kpg = 20 kpL = 0.05 L/km

Enjoy your visit.


LoveItaly Jul 5th, 2009 08:34 AM

Hello Shanna. I would encourage you to get your gasoline at the AutoGrill's when possible. Here is the link about the AutoGrill's from the Slowtrav website. You will see how handy they are as they have restrooms, food, often a restaurant and a shop. Enjoy your time in Italy and know it will all work out just fine!

immimi Jul 5th, 2009 08:53 AM

Watch your timing if filling at a station adjacent to a large
supermarket - they tend to close down for a few hours for
lunch. At least that's what we ran into (not literally) in
northern Tuscany. Quite annoying if you pull in as they
pull out!

Autogrill are brilliant if you're on the autostrada - you
can amuse yourself there in many ways - all of them involving

Shanna Jul 5th, 2009 01:37 PM

You guys are the best! I feel a lot more comfortable about driving. And this goes to show long since I've been traveling - forgot about slow-trav; thanks Mimar & LoveItaly. That's a great site that addressed some other concerns, like - where is the restroom? And solves the problem of lunch. As much as I like meandering about, I'm sure I'll be glad to see the Autogrill. I've put the Int'l license on the list - I guess I need another photo. didn't even think about the diesel/gas issue. Thanks again.

LoveItaly Jul 5th, 2009 01:59 PM

You are sure welcome Shanna! We first went to Italy in the 70's, for two months. Way before computers of course. We had our round trip airline tickets, a hotel reservation for the first two nights and the car rental which we picked up on our 3rd day in Italy. Other than information except what we personally knew about Italy and where various friends lived (well sort of). Shanna we figured out the "getting the gasoline" in no time at all. I look back on that fabulous two months and often think "ignorance is indeed bliss". I think if I were going to Italy for the first time now that I would be so stressed out due to the overload of information. Does that make sense? Well whether it does or not please know that Italians are generally warm and helpful and honestly, you will have a wonderful time in beautiful Italy!

Mimar Jul 6th, 2009 08:12 AM

Member or not, you can get your International Driver's Permit at your local AAA office. They'll take your picture too, all for $10 or $15.

Also remember you are required to buy CDW when renting a car in Italy.

rinr Jul 6th, 2009 11:25 AM

CDW is often included in the price of the rental as it, and theft insurance, are a requirement in Italy. We ALWAYS purchase Super CDW. Although expensive, it will save you a ton of money if you have an "incident." Renting here, my AMEX Paltinum Card WILL NOT cover insurance as it did last week in France (boy, that was great!!!)... so check with YOUR credit company to see if you have "insurance coverage" in Italy - do not assume that you will! Living here, we drive often, own a motorino... and you'll have no trouble with gas stations. The slow travel links are a great source of info, although a little out-dated. As suggested, avoid those stations that are unmanned and pay with cash if possible! For IDP info, check out this post:

Shanna Jul 7th, 2009 05:59 PM

LoveItaly - I know whereof you speak. Don't you just love recalling the days when we went bravely into those strange lands, with little more than our innocence - maybe we had a Frommer's guide, one of those $5 a day (uh oh dating myself). The awe and excitement were unparalleled. I envy those young people - or any age - heading to Europe for the first time and seeing the things only read about or dreamt about. Today there is indeed an overload of information and with it the fear that we will miss something. We can be so well-armed that we miss making connections with locals or stumbling across something wonderful. Maybe that's why going back is such an attraction. gosh - I'm excited because I'm taking my sister for her first trip - not the usual sights in Italy because they won't work for her, but I think the plan we have will leave her stunned and amazed. Next trip - some walled medieval towns in the Pfalz in Germany. So many places, so little time. Gotta finish the book on the Florence/Siena intrigue! Thanks again all for the information.

LoveItaly Jul 7th, 2009 07:58 PM

Oh Shanna, I sure understand what you are saying! Wish we could sit and have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee together as I imagine we could share some wonderful and fun stories!

You are so fortunate to have a sister. Sending you both very good wishes for a wonderful trip Shanna. I hope after you get back home and settled in you will have time to give us a trip report. Best wishes and a hug!

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