The price Americans pay for gasoline coupons in Italy is climbing by 15 cents per gallon in September, pushing the price to $3.34 a gallon of unleaded fuel.

The Navy sets the prices in Italy for gasoline, which can only be purchased at discount rates by using the coupons. Multiple attempts to contact the office in Naples that runs the program Wednesday were unsuccessful.

But Mike Brennan, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager for Italy, confirmed the new prices that go into effect Friday. The price of a coupon booklet of 100 liters of unleaded (often labeled sensa piamba) at Italian stations will cost $88, a jump of $4 from August.

AAFES and the Navy Exchange act as distributors for the coupon program.

The increase follows a $5 increase in August, after prices in July had remained unchanged from June.

Prices in the AAFES-run program in Germany are rising slightly, to $3.16 a gallon, in September. The prices in Italy are higher than any of those announced for Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, the Azores and Turkey.

The price for 100 liters of diesel fuel in Italy will also cost $88. That’s an increase of $1 per 100 liters from July.

Both prices are still considerably less than Italians pay at the pump. The price of unleaded fuel at an Agip station near Aviano Air Base was listed at 1.348 euros Wednesday afternoon. That translates to about $6.73 a gallon.

That didn’t provide a lot of solace for Staff Sgt. Jonathan Reynolds, whose large family was piled in his Chevy Suburban.

“I’m not thrilled about it,” he said, when told about the higher prices. It took 90 liters to fill the tank on his vehicle. With the new prices, that would cost $79.20.

Senior Airman David Quintana was a bit more philosophical.

“It’s gasoline,” he said. “You’ve got to buy it, right?”

Most Americans are limited to 200 or 300 liters per car a month, depending on the size of their engines. So those who have to buy coupons in September to get gasoline will be out an extra $8 or $12.

Coupons bought in September — and the rest of 2006 — technically expire at the end of the month. Those purchased beginning in October will be good for the next year. Brennan said customers could receive refunds on the coupons they currently have until January.

Agip and Esso stations that accept such coupons might not accept them past the Sept. 30 expiration date, though.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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