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When we only have a few days to spend in Rome, we do a combination of walking and taking taxis instead of using the buses. Taxis are not that expensive and are very convenient. This pages has a few notes about taking taxis.
Official Taxis are White
Taxis in Rome are white, have a "Taxi" sign on the roof and have sign on the side of the car (driver side door only, I think). Taxis have a meter. The meter starts at a preset amount which differs by time of day.
A taxi in Rome: Illuminated sign on roof, sign on driver's door.
The easiest way to get a taxi is at a Taxi Stand. You will find them throughout the historic center. The photo below shows a typical stand. If there are taxis waiting, go to the taxi at the front of the line. If there are no taxis waiting, people form a line at the Taxi sign and cabs come by and pick people up.
Some Taxi Stands do not have a place where the taxis can lineup, so instead they are parked here and there. If it is not obvious which is the first cab in the line, ask who is the first cab ("chi il primo" pronounced kee eh eel PREE-moh).
Taxi stand on Vittorio Emanuele at Largo Torre Argentina
Taxi Stands in the Historic Center
Here are a few of the taxi stands I have used when we stayed in the center. There are lots more of them. See "Resources" below for a link to a list of taxi stands.
Calling a Taxi
You are not guarenteed to have an English speaking operator when you call for a taxi. If you do not speak Italian, and cannot find a Taxi Stand, go into a bar/caffe, order a drink, and have the bar person call a taxi for you.
When you call for a taxi, they give you the number of the taxi dispatched for you. This number is in the form of a placename and a number (e.g. Gange 10 as shown below). This name-number is displayed on the outside of the taxi, on the driver side door.
Official Rome Taxi, number "Gange 10".
When the taxi gets to you, you will see the meter is already running. The taxi turns on the meter as soon as it is dispatched, so you pay for the miles and time for them to get to you. If you are close to a taxi stand, you will save money by walking to it and getting the taxi there.
Here are a few numbers you can call for taxis (06 is the area code for Rome and must be dialed before the local taxi number as shown below):
On a recent trip, we called for a taxi and were given the number for the taxi being dispatched. We went outside to wait for the taxi and one pulled up, but we were not sure if it was for us because the driver was on the phone. Steve went up to the driver side to ask if this was our taxi and the driver rolled up the window as Steve approached, so we figured it was not ours.
We did not know where to find the number of the taxi - but if we had, we would have known this was our cab (we only needed to look at the sign on the driver door). In our defence, it was pouring rain and was dark out and we did try to talk to him. Of course, it was our cab and we stood there for 10 minutes waiting while he was on the phone. Finally he got off the phone and waved to us. When we got in, there was already money on the meter. We probably paid for the 10 minutes of us standing in the rain and him being on the phone. This was the only time we had anything like this - normally the taxis in Rome are very good.
Flagging Down a Taxi
You can also flag down a taxi, but I have not always had good luck with this. They do not seem to cruise the streets, as they do in New York City, and it is easier to find a Taxi Stand.
The amount to be paid is shown on the meter. We usually tip 5 - 10%. You may have to pay extra if you have luggage. Make sure you have some smaller bills for payment - like taxis anywhere, they prefer smaller bills. Some taxis may take credit cards.
When taking a taxi around the center of Rome, it may seem like the driver is trying to fool you by taking a longer than necessary route, but this is not always the case. The historic center is a maze of one-way and pedestrian streets. The fastest way to get somewhere may involve going out to a main road.
I do not know the exact rates, but I did not find taxis to be expensive, especially when shared by three people. I found that 10 is a typical price for a 15 minute ride in the historic center.
No Smoking in Taxis
There is no smoking in Taxis in Italy - this is the law. (Now if we could only outlaw those equally hideous air fresheners that taxi drivers the world round seem to use.)
Thanks to everyone on the message board for helping me make these notes more complete!
Slow Travel Photos - Rome Transportation: A few photos.
www.threemillennia.com/taxi.htm: Current taxi rates.
www.3570.it: Radio Taxi 3570 (in Rome). Largest taxi company in Rome. Click link for ENGLISH in upper right corner.
www.6645.it: Pronto Taxi 6645 (in Rome). Second largest taxi company in Rome.
www.cgil.it/unicataxi/roma/posteggi.html: List of taxi stands in Rome.
www.romaforyou.it/08taxi.asp: List of taxi stands in Rome. From the pulldown labelled "Scegli la zona", select the area and then click on the button labelled "Invia".
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