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TRAVEL

Price of petrol in Italy spikes at more than €2 a litre

Driving in Italy just got more expensive: the price of petrol at Italian pumps has climbed to its highest level in months, topping €2 a litre in several parts of the country.

Price of petrol in Italy spikes at more than €2 a litre
It's even more expensive than usual to fill the tank in Italy. Photo: Giulio Napolitano/AFP

With the US seeking to block Iran's oil exports and fighting raging in Libya, the rising cost of crude is being passed on to consumers, according to the Italian government's Fuel Observatory, which monitors petrol prices.

Two of Italy's biggest fuel companies, Eni and IP, raised their recommended prices for unleaded petrol and diesel by 1 euro cent on Wednesday. And service stations along Italian motorways have been spotted charging as much as €2.020/litre for petrol outside Milan, €2.051/litre near Florence and a whopping €2.071/litre outside Naples, the observatory said.

Nationwide, the average prices at attended pumps are €1.750/litre for petrol and €1.643/litre for diesel (or at self-service pumps, €1.618/litre and €1.508/litre respectively). That puts petrol at its most expensive since October 2018, when it hit a two-year high of €1.658/litre.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Italy's new petrol pump labels


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

That's bad news for drivers in Italy, who are expected to take to the roads in their thousands from Thursday for the long Liberation Day weekend.

If you're looking to save a few cents, avoid refuelling on the motorway, where prices are typically highest, and fill the tank yourself: fuel from self-service pumps is generally at least a cent cheaper per litre.

The biggest money-saver, though, are so-called pompe bianche ('white pumps'): independent petrol stations that pump unbranded fuel, which is on average five euro cents cheaper per litre than its branded equivalent at big-name stations. There are an estimated 7,000 across Italy; find your nearest one via this map.

READ ALSO: 

Even when geopolitics aren't pushing the price up, fuel is almost always more expensive in Italy than most other European countries thanks to a hefty excise tax that makes up nearly half of what consumers pay at the pumps: the equivalent of €728.40 per 1,000 litres of petrol.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini promised during last year's election campaign to reduce the fuel tax, though so far no reforms have been tabled. 

Useful vocabulary

la benzina (senza piombo) – (unleaded) petrol

il gasolio or il diesel – diesel

il GPL – LPG, liquid petroleum gas

il benzinaio or la stazione di servizio – petrol/service station

fare il pieno – to fill up (the petrol tank)

 

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DRIVING LICENCES

EXPLAINED: What’s in the Italian driving licence theory test?

The theory quiz is by far the most daunting part of Italy's driving test. We take a look at what the questions are about and what you’ll be asked to do on the day of the exam.

EXPLAINED: What's in the Italian driving licence theory test?

There are all sorts of reasons why people who’ve relocated to Italy may want to get an Italian driving licence, not least because of the potential lack of a reciprocal agreement (an arrangement allowing foreign nationals to exchange their licence with an Italian one) between Rome and their country of origin. 

As things stand, people from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa are not allowed to swap their ‘original’ licence for an Italian one. 

READ ALSO: Explained: Who needs to exchange their driving licence for an Italian one? 

And, while the Italian Highway Code states that non-EU nationals can freely drive in Italy on a foreign licence for up to one year from the moment they become Italian residents, drivers will be required to get an Italian licence at the end of that grace period. 

Unfortunately though, the Italian driving test isn’t exactly a piece of cake and that’s largely because the theory exam, which candidates must pass in order to progress to the practical test, requires quite a bit of technical knowledge and cannot be taken in English. 

READ ALSO: Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

So, for those who are considering getting an Italian licence and might, one day, be faced with the dreaded quiz, here’s what the theory test is about. 

For starters, once they have put in a request to take the theory exam, candidates have six months and a total of two attempts to pass it. 

Foreign nationals are generally advised to take the test through a driving school (autoscuola) as they will not only help you with all the relevant paperwork but will also provide you with the adequate training regarding the exam questions. 

That said, residents can also choose to take the test privately, which means that they’ll deal with their local licensing office (Ufficio di Motorizzazione Civile, which is roughly equivalent to the UK’s DVLA or the US DMV) directly and book their exam independently. 

Regardless of which path you choose to go down, the structure and procedures of the test are the same for all candidates. 

READ ALSO: Why is it taking so long to book a driving test in Italy?

The theory exam consists of 30 questions of the true or false type and each candidate is given 20 minutes (that’s a little over half a minute for each question) to answer them. 

Italian police officers setting up a roadblock

The Italian theory test consists of 30 questions ranging from road signage to civil liability. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Only three mistakes are allowed, with any number of errors equal to or above four resulting in a failed attempt. 

The questions presented to candidates are randomly selected, which means that some sections of the Italian Driver’s Manual (Manuale di Teoria) might not figure in the test at all. 

That said, you should know that the exam questions generally refer to the following macro-subjects: 

  • Road signage
  • Driver’s duties
  • Speed limits and restrictions to circulation
  • Safe following distance
  • General rules on vehicles’ circulation
  • Right of way
  • Braking, stopping and pulling over
  • Rules on overtaking
  • Use of indicator lights and horns
  • Personal safety equipment
  • Driving licences, circulation documents and penalty system
  • Road accidents and proper response
  • Driving under the influence and first aid
  • Rules on civil liability and insurance
  • Pollution and respecting the environment
  • Basic knowledge of car parts and vehicle maintenance

So, what actually happens on the day of the exam?

Barring some rare exceptions, the theory exam will take place at your local licensing office. 

Prior to the test, examiners will ask you to produce a valid identity document and the copy of a medical certificate testifying to good mental and physical health. After these formalities, you’ll be asked to take a seat at your designated station. 

Please note that you won’t be allowed to take any electronic device nor any notepad to your station. 

Cars queueing before road stop

Candidates only have two shots at passing the Italian theory test. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Once at your station, you’ll find a pc with a touch screen, which is where you’ll be taking the exam. 

By law, all candidates are shown a brief video tutorial prior to the test. After that, it’s game on.

Candidates cannot ask their examiners any question during the course of the exam – this includes questions about words or expressions that one might not know. 

It’ll be possible for you to move freely from one question to the other (i.e. you don’t have to answer a question to progress to the next one) and change your answers. That said, you’d best keep an eye on the remaining time (this is usually shown in the bottom-right corner of the web page).

READ ALSO: Some of the best learner sites for taking your Italian driving test

Once you have reviewed all of your answers and submitted the test, you will be automatically logged out of the exam page.

What happens after I take the test?

Results will be made available online the day following the exam. 

If you pass, you’ll get the ‘pink slip’ (or foglio rosa) and you’ll have 12 months and a total of three attempts to take the practical test.

If you fail, you’ll have to wait a month before you can have another go. Should you fail your second attempt, you’ll have to re-enrol and submit a new request to take the theory exam (this means paying all the relevant fees again).

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