How to take a taxi in Italy… without getting ripped off

You don’t have to be a walker or use public transport if you travel in foreign cities. Sometimes you need to take a cab.

Although it may seem like the most convenient option, you could be swindled by taking a taxi. We’ve compiled a list of common scams that taxi drivers in Italy to help you avoid making a bad trip. There’s a 99 percent chance you won’t ever need this information. Contrary to what you may have heard, most Italian taxi drivers are friendly, professional, and honest. These tips are only for the top 1%, and we guarantee that you won’t pay too much for your taxi fare if you remember them.

(If you’d rather be driving in Italy, then our blog is a must-read.

  • If possible, take a taxi from an official rank. This will lower the chances of you being in an unregistered taxi, which is notoriously not following the rules.
  • How do I call a taxi for a pick-up? What to expect? The taxi will be registered as a taxi. This is fantastic. It will arrive with a few euros on the meter. This is not because the driver is cheating you. It’s because in Italy drivers begin the meter as soon as they receive the call… regardless of where they may be.
  • Keep small change with you. You shouldn’t take a taxi with only EUR50 bills. The more coins you have, the better. Although cab drivers should always have plenty of coins and bills to make a change, they don’t always do so. Sometimes, they will resort to the “I have not changed” method to get the extra cash.
  • Do not accept a ride from any driver that approaches you. If someone approaches you to offer a ride, it is likely that they are trying to profit.
  • Flat rates that are negotiated… usually have a higher rate. You won’t be able to win if you don’t know the area well. If you’re traveling long distances, legitimate taxi drivers will not attempt to negotiate a rate. You shouldn’t negotiate rates for popular long trips like Rome’s center to one of the airports.
  • Check that the meter is running. Is the driver claiming that it is “broken”? Ask the driver to get you out of his car. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the “broken meters” are a scheme to take you on a ride in multiple ways.
  • In Italian, know your destination address! Rome can be confusing. Not every driver is familiar with every restaurant or hotel. Make sure you have the address. It is safer to write the address down. In Italian.
  • Make sure to be specific. Your driver can drop you anywhere in the country if you say “Vatican” — but if you want to go to the Vatican museum entrance, then you must say it! Ditto in Rome for “Borghese”, which could refer to the large public park…or the Borghese Museum).
  • Be aware of the cost of your fare, but don’t be afraid to ask for more information. There are legitimate extra fees. For example, in Rome, the taxi fare starts at EUR2.80 between 7 am-10 pm, but it goes up to EUR4 on Sundays and EUR 5.80 at night. If you are leaving Termini, there is a EUR2 surcharge and a EUR1 fee per piece of luggage. If the price is more than you would expect, don’t hesitate to give the driver credit. As long as they are a licensed driver. (And you do, right?
  • Do you feel like you are on the “scenic path”? Don’t panic. The driver may be trying to take advantage of you. It’s difficult to find a direct route on many streets in Italy.
  • It’s acceptable to leave a small tip, but it is not essential. Italians do not tip taxi drivers like Americans. They will only round up, like telling the driver to keep the change if they hand over EUR10 for EUR9.50. If the driver is helpful, such as with your bags or luggage, tip EUR1 or EUR2.
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