How to understand petrol stations - The Italian Way
How hard can it be to fill up your car with fuel in another country? I mean, all you have to do is just pick up the thing, put the thing in the thing and pay. Voilà! No, no, no. I tried doing this in L.A. and I ended up asking someone to do it for me because the thing wouldn’t even fit in the other thing!
ANYWAYS, there are a few useful tips to consider when you're filling up your tank in Italy. Let’s go by points.
There’s a way that will save you money. Im talking cents, but it’s satisfying.
There’s always a free way to clean your windshield and check the pressure of your tires.
When you are on the big Italian highways (Autostrade), every fuel station will be signalled by small billboards represented by a gas station icon and in how many km’s this will be. If you look carefully, there’s always a bigger billboard which will show you every single gas station there is for the next 200 KM of the highway. By law they have to signal which one has the cheapest fuel. This special one will be signalled with a huge green, shining dot next to it. That’s the first way to save those cents we all love.
If by any chance, the cheapest is actually too far from where you are, you have the second option of saving money. There are always two or more rows where you can stop in a petrol station. One or more rows will say ‘SERVITO’ which translates to ‘serviced’ and one or more rows will say ‘FAI DA TE’ which translates to ‘do it yourself!’. I suggest you pick ‘servito’ if you have no idea how to do it yourself or you just can’t be bothered. A man from the station will do it for you. BUT, if you do pick ‘servito’ then you will be paying more for your fuel! Usually 15-20 cents more per litre.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling like Indiana Jones, then DO IT YOURSELF! Also because if you’re driving on a Sunday or you’re in small Italian towns then you won’t really have other options. It’s also cheaper! To do so the first thing you do is pick the the fuel you want. Easy right? Diesel is Diesel and ‘Senza Piombo’ is Lead-Free fuel. Anyways you can read what fuel you need in the inside of your fuel cap in your car. So, park your car, open your tap and find the main paying machine which is usually at the centre of the station. Insert your card, best to do it with a credit card, and select the number that refers to the pump you want to use. They will automatically charge you €100. Don’t worry, you actually only pay what you use of those €100. Once you’ve payed go get that pump and start filling up that tank of yours! Then place the pump back, go back to the paying machine and it will give you a receipt. You can also pay with cash by the way. Instead of inserting the credit card put in the desired amount of cash.
The risk of paying with cash is that you could put more money that what is actually needed. Let’s say you put €50 and your car only took €45. You would have to put the pump back and go get the receipt from the main cash machine. Then, the following working day, present it to the owner/worker which will reimburse you. A bit of a hassle, that’s why I prefer cards.
You will always find a bucket which will contain soapy water and a window wiper which you can use free of charge! Most of the times this water is a bit dirty but, hey, free stuff. Why not? If you look around the station there will also always be a pump for your tires in case you need to check the pressure. Free of charge, just make sure you know what you’re doing. By the way another free thing is asking the fuel man to check your oil. Because why not? It’s Free!
Have fun filling up your tank in your next Italian holiday!
Thanks for reading!