How to Take a Taxi in Rome Without Getting Ripped Off, 2nd ed.

13 Feb

Well folks, nearly 4 years and 78 comments later, I can unfortunately confirm that one of my most popular posts continues to reflect one of the biggest challenges to visitors here in Rome: How to Take a Taxi in Rome and Not Get Ripped Off.

Most of the information in that article is still accurate and relevant, but here’s version 2.0.

1. How to Get a Taxi in Rome

I think most locals would agree with me that hailing a cab isn’t as frequent a way to get a taxi in Rome as it might be in other cities. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever hailed a cab here, and many a time I’ve watched as tourists get frustrated by what they consider as rude Roman cab drivers who don’t stop when they are signaled from the curb. Many taxi drivers in Rome operate with a radio service and therefore are already on their way to pick someone up or already have someone in the car. Here are some ways you can get in the door:

Text Message
If you have a cell phone, this is the easiest way I’ve found so far to get a licensed radio taxi. This number is for the 3570 company; if you know of others that are reliable, please share in the comments section.

Send a text message to the following number: 366 673 0000 (I’ve never tried this from an international phone so I’m not sure if it works, but if you want to give it a go, then you’ll need to first put the international prefix +39)

In the body of the text message, type the following: Roma, [insert address here, for example Via del Tritone 113]

That’s all. Then the service will text you back when they begin the search for the taxi, and another text when the taxi has been found, listing the taxi name, number, and wait time.

Phone Call
This was pretty intimidating to me in the beginning, since I didn’t speak or understand Italian well. Each radio taxi company has a number you can call to request a taxi.

City of Rome “ChiamaTaxi” (Taxi Call Service) Dial 06 06 09
Call and clearly state the street name and building number where you need the cab, and the computer system automatically sends the call to the taxi stand nearest you. The cab driver will then confirm and the caller will receive notice of how long the wait will be.

Other reliable Rome cab company phone numbers (dial 06 before each): Coop. Autoradiotaxi Romana 3570; Radio Taxi 6645; soc. La Capitale 4994; soc. Tevere 4157; soc. Cosmo 88177; coop. Samarcanda 5551

Taxi Stand
You can identify these by the orange “TAXI” sign. Passengers wait in a line (theoretically—remember, this is Rome) and the first cab in the line takes the first passenger in line. Sometimes if the line is all a jumble, you might have to ask the drivers “Chi è il primo?” (Who’s the first in line?) to know which cab to get into.

Printable list of Rome taxi stands and addresses

2. How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

Reiterating in brief the points from my previous article:

– Only take city-authorized cabs. They have the “SPQR” city coat of arms on them and a taxi sign on top. I recommend radio taxis (those that have clearly marked phone numbers on the outside doors) because they work with a radio cooperative, not independently, and therefore are less likely to risk ripping you off since their dispatcher knows their fares and you should have recourse for any problems.

– Note the name and license number of the cab driver or cooperative on the inside back door (a small placard will indicate this).

– Know in general where you are and where you’re planning to go, at least having looked at a map of the area or some landmarks for your destination.

– Don’t be shy about arguing if you know you’re being ripped off. Threaten to call the carabinieri (the number is 112). They’ll generally back off if they are being dishonest.

– Know the city-regulated set fares and tarriffs and don’t take a cab without a meter:

Airport fixed rates: 40 euro from Fiumicino to within the Aurelian Walls and vice versa; 30 euro from Ciampino to within the Aurelian Walls and vice versa

Otherwise, there is always an initial fare on the meter, as follows:

€2,80 from 7 am to 10 pm on weekdays
€4,00 from 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays and holidays
€5,80 from 10 pm to 7 am all days of the week

The first bag is free; excess baggage is charged at a rate of €1,00 per bag

If you’re going 12 mph (20 kph) or over, the taxi meter will go up 92 cents for every kilometer (just over a half mile) within the GRA ring road, or €1,52 if you’re outside the GRA ring road.

Wait time charges before cab arrives:

When you call for a cab, they will tell you how long the wait should be. The taxi meter starts from the time the taxi takes your call, which means the initial fare on the meter will be higher if you’ve called a taxi than if you get in from a cab stand. Here are the official city rules, within the city’s ring road, if the cab is supposed to arrive within:
5 minutes = €2
10 minutes = €4
more than 10 minutes = €6

No one is jumping up and down for joy about Rome’s cab service. A survey by the Italian Automobile Club revealed that Rome, along with Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Madrid, Prague, and Vienna, has an “unsatisfactory” rating for taxi service, based on factors like cost, respect for speed limits, unnecessary detours, red-light running, and aggressive driving. In fact, in the final rating report, Rome scored second-to-last, above only Ljubljana, Slovakia.

More depressing news is that, although there is an official form (here in English) for complaints, from my own personal experience, as with many bureaucratic things in Rome, it’s next to worthless. I filled out a complaint after having a really bad experience with a dishonest cab driver in Rome in December 2007, when I was nine months pregnant with my son and I had to ask the driver to stop where we were to let us out because he was cheating us and wouldn’t admit it. Nearly TWO AND A HALF YEARS later I received word that my complaint had been registered and the driver would be “reprimanded,” whatever that involves.

As if that weren’t bad enough, as I was writing this, I got tipped off by a Twitter user to this article that reports of a recent investigation revealing that some Roman cab drivers have rigged fare meters to help them earn up to triple what a normally sanctioned day of fares would earn. Apparently there are unscrupulous mechanics who, for €500, will “fix” the meter so that the meter goes much faster than normal, registering €1 for every 300 meters instead of the city-sanctioned 98 cents per 1 kilometer.

But truly, the easiest and cheapest way for cabbies to rip off passengers is simply to use “Tariffa 2” within the ring road city limits, as opposed to the cheaper and correct Tariffa 1. Or to turn on both and add them together!

This article on Slow Travel is still relevant and helpful, with photos illustrating the points I’ve mentioned.

Happy travels! And remember, not all cab rides are bad! I have some of my best conversations with cab drivers.

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24 Responses to “How to Take a Taxi in Rome Without Getting Ripped Off, 2nd ed.”

  1. moscerina February 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    As usual, amazing and incredibly useful piece for anyone in Rome- tourist and resident. Taxis are a pain. My two cents: if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, have the driver aware of this and driver is still taking advantage of you, i suggest saying a firm “Ti denuncio” or “Denuncia” (Day-noon-sha), driver will either stop the cab and let you out or put the meter to 2.80euro and let you decide what to pay.

  2. Un'americana a Roma February 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Great call on that one. In fact denuncia or carabinieri (harder to pronounce ;-)) usually get a reaction from the dishonest ones. I’ve had to pull the carabinieri card once and it was unpleasant. I’ve also had to be “dropped off” by a dishonest driver as I mention in this post, and I didn’t even pay a thing I just got out. Argh. Taking taxis in Rome is an art, not a science, for sure.

  3. Francesca Maggi February 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    A terrific update which I’ll add to my Tips for Tourists on my blog! Although I truly believe taxi drivers have a special DNA – worldwide – this should be printed out before anyone leaves for their trip.

    I would only suggest you be more specific about Aurelian Walls…no one knows what they are. They pretty much cover anyone visiting Rome, except those staying out on the Appian Way.
    As a rule, if you’re going to the very center of the city, even around the train station, you’re in.

    But, I have to say, they still find ways to rip off their clientele, even those in the know & who speak the language! (believe me, I speak from experience). I’ve been told the rates have gone up upon landing, that there’s extra for nighttime – like double – and there is a flat rate for short trips around town (not true).

    Then there’s the barb that if you reserve an early a.m. pickup, they arrive 30 minutes early and keep the meter running. Make sure they set it back to zero. You do not have to pay for their time outside your door. Threaten to call another taxi (they’ll come right away) if they do not acquiesce. In fact, the standard airport rate + early hours extra charge + extra luggage is all that applies.

    I would say that if you do not see the card posting the rates inside the cab (mandatory), get out and try another one.

  4. Un'americana a Roma February 15, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Wow, all awesome added tips!! I too got the same “the rates have gone up” after I moved back in June of last year. HAH! They’re so predictable. Geez. It really makes it bad for the honest ones out there, and there are a lot of them, surprisingly! I can say that in 8 years of taking taxis here, probably 75% of them have been honest. Geez I guess that’s not great but I don’t want to scare people into thinking all taxi drivers are scary rip off artists!!!

  5. Fabrizio March 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    I am the administrator http://www.alltransfersinrome.com , You have forgotten the Fiumicino that not have a fixed rate (60 €).
    Taxis in Rome are the fixed rate (40 €) for the Aurelian walls, but the Aurelian walls surround a small part of central Rome.
    We offer fixed fee (40 €) for large area of Rome. Visit our site is free.
    I know this is advertising, but it is help to a tourist, we are honest and we fix the price beforehand
    Thanks

  6. Fabrizio March 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I am the administrator http://www.alltransfersinrome.com , You have forgotten the Fiumicino Taxi that not have a fixed rate (60 €).
    Taxis in Rome are the fixed rate (40 €) for the Aurelian walls, but the Aurelian walls surround a small part of central Rome.
    We offer fixed fee (40 €) for large area of Rome. Visit our site is free.
    I know this is advertising, but it is help to a tourist, we are honest and we fix the price beforehand

  7. Joe Canti July 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi, great article and essential reading for all newcomers to Rome! When I first came here we arrived late at night. I got stung for 70 euros to get to Tuscolana!!! Last time I got a private driver from here: http://www.limotoursrome.com/rome-transfers-tours/rome-airport-transfers/ – I can fully recommend them – they were great. Still, the train isn’t bad these days when it’s on time…

  8. Marc July 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Same warning if you get a Cab In New York City! 🙂

  9. Marc July 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Please that’s is not Italy, that’s Rome!

    If you are in the North of Italy, life is much easier expecially in the little town.

  10. Sarah K October 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Thanks so much for posting this info. Hubby and I were in Rome a couple of weeks ago and it proved invaluable! I used the text option a couple of times and never had to wait any longer than 3 mins for a cab. Also made life so much easier since I can only speak a few basic words of Italian. Tried to call for a cab once which was a disaster (operator didnt speak a word of English) so texting was much easier. Thanks again!

  11. John October 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    we had our hotel call for cabs and every time we got in one the meter was already at between 3 and 9 euros , this lead to to altercations with cab drivers ………total rip off that an expensive hotel should not allow to happen to thier guests !!!

  12. taxi from heathrow to oxford January 4, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks for give those info. Any one can use this info. City of Rome “ChiamaTaxi” (Taxi Call Service) Dial 06 06 09
    Call and clearly state the street name and building number where you need the cab, and the computer system automatically sends the call to the taxi stand nearest you. The cab driver will then confirm and the caller will receive notice of how long the wait will be.

    Other reliable Rome cab company phone numbers (dial 06 before each): Coop. Autoradiotaxi Romana 3570; Radio Taxi 6645; soc. La Capitale 4994; soc. Tevere 4157; soc. Cosmo 88177; coop. Samarcanda 5551
    Taxi from heathrow to oxford

  13. Mark Minasi April 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Ljubljana is in SLOVENIA. quite American goof, sadly. Dude, you’re making all of yanks sound like our previous president

  14. Stuart April 26, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Ljubljana is in Slovenia not Slovakia..

  15. Stuart April 26, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Ha ha, just saw the comment above.

  16. Alex May 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    I have been taking taxis in NYC all my life, hundreds of times, and can honestly say I have NEVER been ripped off. The meter system is monitored very carefully and no one would risk losing their license/medallion, which are now sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  17. emanuele June 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    i’m from Rome.i know taxi drivers are not qualified, do not speak English and almost never have cars do not always clean and with regular maintenance. The company i manage offers competitive prices (38 €!) and luxury cars more economical taxi. try it
    thank you americana a Roma !
    http://www.trip2rome.it

  18. Lee March 27, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Great article. I recently went to Rome and would like to add the following….some taxi’s have 3 seats in the back. They will take the middle seat and push it forward so you cannot see the meter. Don’t even get in the cab with these losers. This is so you cannot see the meter. This also allows them to adjust the meter without you seeing it. Also, when the meter “starts” it starts at 3.20 not 0. This is normal. But if you get in the cab and it is setting on more than that question it. Do not be shy about getting another cab. It’s your money and you worked hard for it.

  19. Fiona January 4, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Thank you very much. What a helpful article. I saw it yesterday and called to book a taxi from Trastevere to Ciampino airport. The taxi arrived 5 minutes early, the driver was really nice and informed us immediately that the flat rate to the airport was 30 euro. Wil be using this service again. This is the number I called 06 35 70. Don’t forget to put the Italy prefix 0039 if you are calling from a foreign mobile phone.

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