Last updated on November 7th, 2023
If you’re renting a car in Italy, you’ll need to know how to get gas. I know it can be intimidating – the pumps are different, the staff speaks Italian, and you may be forced to interact with a computer.
I’m here to help! I’ve driven (and gotten gas) all over Italy for almost 20 years – in rental cars, family station wagons, and vans with trailers.
Let’s go through getting gas in Italy step-by-step, and we’ll go through a few different scenarios that you may encounter at Italian gas stations.
What Are Gas Stations Called In Italian?
A gas station in Italian is called a:
- benzinaio – ben-zee-NEYE-oh
- distributore (di benzina) – dee-stree-boo-TOE-ray dee ben-ZEE-nah
- stazione di rifornimento – stah-tsee-OH-nay dee ree-for-nee-MEHN-toe
Listen to the pronunciations here:
How To Find a Gas Station in Italy
The easiest ways to find a gas station in Italy are to:
Look on Your GPS or on Google Maps
Many GPS units have a way to search for gas stations.
If you have data on your phone, just enter ‘gas’ in Google Maps and a map with icons will show you where you can stop. You can also pull up the list in Google Maps (see bottom of the photo – ‘SHOW LIST).
Follow Signs on Major Roads
If you’re on a major road like an Autostrada (toll road) or superstrada (major highway), you’ll see blue signs with a gas pump icon. You may also see gas stations listed by brand with the current prices.
Check out our post on Italian Road Signs (with photos)!
Ask Someone Where A Gas Station Is
You can always pull over and ask someone where the closest gas station is. Even if you don’t speak much Italian, you’ll probably be able to get good directions using hand gestures!
Dov’è il benzinaio piu vicino? – Where is the closest gas station?
Listen to the pronunciation here:
- dritto – straight ahead
- a sinistra – to the left
- a destra – to the right
- fra 100, 200, 500 metri – in 100, 200, 500 meters
- fra 1, 2, 5 kilometri – in 1, 2, 5 kilometers
Where Are Gas Stations in Italy?
You’ll find gas stations in Italy:
|Location||Good to Know|
|In cities||smaller, may be tough to maneuver, may close in the afternoon and on Sundays|
|In the countryside||may be large distances between them, typically close in the afternoon and on Sundays|
|On the Autostrade (main toll roads)||more expensive, open long hours and Sundays|
|On superstrade (highways)||more expensive, open long hours and Sundays|
Italian Gas Station Opening Days and Hours
Vary greatly, but regular gas stations typically open from 7am to 7pm, and close in the afternoon (around 1 to 4pm) and on Sundays. Larger gas stations (including those on the Autostrade (main toll highways in Italy) usually stay open all day and on Sundays.
If the gas station is closed, you can usually still get gas by using a small self-service machine.
Driving Into an Italian Gas Station
Note Where Your Gas Tank Is
Like roads and parking spaces in Italy, gas stations aren’t spacious.
Take note of which side your gas tank is on so you don’t have to maneuver like Austin Powers.
Self-Service or Serviced
You’ll also need to decide if you want to fill up your gas on your own (self-service) or if you’d like an attendant to fill up for you (serviced).
Self-service (self or fai da te) is less-expensive than serviced (servito or serv). Prices are often posted on a digital sign at the entrance of the station.
If you drive into the serviced pump area and try to pump your own gas, the staff will ask you to move to a self-service pump.
Getting Gas at an Italian Gas Station
Determine Which Fuel Type You Need
IMPORTANT: You need to know whether you need benzina (gas/petrol) or gasolio (diesel). A diesel car cannot run on gas (and vice-versa). If you put the wrong fuel type in your car, it will eventually stop running and you will need to have it towed to a service center, where you will pay to have the tank drained. A big waste of time and money!
|Fuel Type*||Fuel Type in English||How It’s Usually Labeled on the Pump|
|Gasolio||Diesel||black or blue or yellow label; Gasolio, B7, B10, XTL|
|Benzina||Gas/Petrol||green label; Benzina, Senza Piombo, Senza PB, Benzina Verde, E5, E10, E85|
Your gas tank cap should be color-coded or labeled with the type of fuel you need to put in:
Good To Know: The nozzle for benzina is smaller than the nozzle for gasolio. So, you can put the benzina nozzle into a gasolio tank, but not vice-versa (but that doesn’t mean you should!).
If you’re not sure which type of fuel you need, ask a gas station attendant (and you should always ask when you’re picking up your rental car).
Pumping Your Own Gas (Self-Service)
There are two different scenarios you’ll encounter when you drive into an Italian gas station:
1. No one is working at the gas station. In this case, you’ll need to use the self-service payment machine (see below).
2. The gas station is open and staffed. In this case, pump your desired amount of gas.
If you want to fill up, just insert the appropriate fuel nozzle into your tank and fill up.
If you want to put a certain € amount into the tank, you can watch the digital amount and stop when you reach it. Or, you can push the buttons (€5 and €20 in the photo above) to get the amount of fuel you’d like and it will stop automatically when it reaches that amount.
When you’re finished pumping, walk inside the store (or go to the booth in the pump area), and pay the attendant.
If you need to go inside to pay after pumping your gas, AND you’re at a small gas station AND someone is waiting to pump gas, you can drive out of the pump area, park and go inside to pay. At larger stations, there are plenty of pumps so you can go inside to pay without moving your car.
Good To Know: These are the two scenarios you’ll encounter 95% of the time. Cameras are installed so they aren’t worried about your driving away without paying. Occasionally, you’ll find an Italian gas station that requires you to pre-pay for your gas or ‘unlock’ the pump.
Having The Attendant Pump Your Gas (Servito)
If the gas station is open and staffed, you can have someone pump your gas for you.
Drive up to a servito (serviced) pump.
Open your tank for the attendant.
Tell the attendant how much gas you’d like. You can ask for it to be pieno (full) or tell how many € you’d like to spend. For example, ‘pieno, per favore,’ or ‘venti euro, per favore.’ (see below for helpful vocabulary)
Usually you can pay the attendant directly, but some other scenarios you may find:
- You need to go inside the shop to pay
- You need to leave the vehicle to pay with a credit or debit card (go inside or sign in the pump area)
Ask for a receipt if you’d like one.
Self-Service Machine at Italian Gas Stations
If you roll into the station during lunch or late at night, or on a Sunday or a holiday, you may find the gas station is closed.
Have no fear! Look around for a self-service machine:
To use the machine, take note of which pump number you’re at (usually you need to look up).
The machines sometimes have an option to change the language – it will say ENG or ENGLISH or have an icon of a British or American flag.
If you’d like to have a receipt, look on the screen for the option before you pump your gas. You’re looking for ‘ricevuta’ or ‘scontrino.’
Enter your cash (contanti), credit card (carta di credito), or debit card (bancomat).
Good To Know: You will need a PIN for your debit card (and credit card if you use one with it).
Then, choose your pump number on the screen and fill up your tank!
If you chose to get a receipt, don’t forget to grab it from the self-service machine after you’ve gotten your gas.
Good To Know: Self-service machines usually don’t give change. So, don’t put a €50 banknote in if you only need €10 of gas.
If you do have € credit, you’ll get a receipt with a code that you can use on your next visit… which is a problem if you’re passing through and won’t be back.
Not sure how much gas you need? Start with a small bill and get gas. You can always add more!
IMPORTANT: I’ve noticed that with many of the newer self-service payment machines at Italian gas stations – US credit cards don’t work. In the past, the machine has asked for a PIN (even if your credit card doesn’t have one). Now, the machine will just spit your card back out without even giving you an option to enter a PIN. In this case, you’ll need to pay cash. Keep this in mind, especially when you need to fill up before returning your rental car – you probably won’t have time to drive around looking for a bancomat (ATM).
What Else Can You Find at a Gas Station in Italy?
- Air compressor
- Car wash
- Convenience mart – maybe just a few snacks on a shelf
- Window washing equipment – sometimes window washing is done by the gas station staff
- Restaurants serving hot (decent) meals
- Mini grocery stores
- Complexes like the Autogrill (have a combo of gas station, restaurant, toilet facilities, mini-market)
How Much Is Gas In Italy?
Gas prices are usually posted at the entrance of the gas station on a digital sign that lists prices for benzina (gas) and gasolio (diesel).
If you’re traveling on the Autostrada, you will sometimes see large signs listing the current gas prices for gas stations coming up on your route.
Remember that Italy’s gas prices are per liter (not per gallon).
1 liter = 0.264172 gallons OR 3.7854 liters = 1 gallon
So, if you see gas in Italy that costs €2/liter, it costs:
€2 x 3.7854 = €7.57/gallon
Before you stress out and cancel your car rental, remember that cars are smaller here and they get better gas mileage!
You can see the current average prices for gas in Italy on the Global Petrol Prices website.
Italian Gas Station Vocabulary
|la pompa||the pump|
|guasto||out of order|
|guanto di plastica||plastic glove (disposable)|
Italian Gas Station Tips
- When you’re picking up your rental car, have the agent show you how to open the gas tank lid and tell you if you need gas or diesel.
- Don’t wait until you’re low on gas to fill up. It’s not fun to chase down an open gas station while you’re on vacation! Instead, top up when you’re at ½ a tank.
- Feeling confused or intimidated? Just pull into the gas station, park to the side, and watch someone get gas. Then, imitate the person. Or, the first time you get gas in Italy, go to the serviced (servito) pump.
- Always carry a few small € banknotes in case your credit or debit card doesn’t work, and in case you need to use the self-service machine (which doesn’t give change).
- Use those small bills, one at a time, when you’re filling up with the self-service machines. You don’t want to end up with a credit because you probably won’t be back to that gas station during your trip.
- Remember that you need in almost all self-service machines, you’ll need a PIN. Yes, even for your credit card.
- Never leave your car unlocked (even while you’re pumping your gas) and do not leave any valuables if you go inside to pay. If someone tries to chat with you while you’re pumping gas, be aware of your surroundings. A common gas station crime is for someone to distract you while a partner reaches into an open door or window to grab a wallet, purse, or phone.
Getting Gas in Italy FAQ
If you have enough gas, drive to a gas station on the Autostrada. They’re open during lunch.
No, you do not need to tip a gas station attendant. More questions about tipping here? See our post on Tipping in Italy.
You may find that gas is more expensive in Italy than what you’re used to back home. Italian gas stations charge by the liter. 1 liter is about ¼ gallon. So, if the gas station’s sign says €2/liter, you’re paying about 8€/gallon. The good news is that Italian cars are usually small and get good gas mileage.
Gas is more expensive here in Italy than other European countries because the Italian government taxes it at a high rate.