As we mentioned on our Transport Essentials page, taxis should be avoided in Italy whenever possible. Drivers are notorious for ripping off tourists and the problem is so widespread that the industry is suffering, which makes the unscrupulous element responsible yet more numerous and more brazen.
Even if you do not get conned, taxis in Italy are extremely expensive. During the day, a half hour journey on foot will cost over €10 by taxi, after 9pm €15. Luggage is charged extra per bag too, and there’s also a supplement if the driver has to go out of his jurisdiction, for example to one of the suburban towns. If you call a taxi rather than hail one in the street, the meter starts when the car leaves wherever it is to come and pick you up, so you can often find the fare is extremely high before you even get in.
On the bright side, there’s usually a set fare from any city’s airport to the centre or vice-versa, so look out for this price on the list of fares and tariffs attached to the back of the driver’s seat.
As with all petty con artists, the dishonest taxi drivers will attempt to intimidate and cajole you if there’s any kind of disagreement over the price. If you’re in the right, stick to your guns and remain unfazed by threats of violence or the police. Common ploys are the suggestion that taxi fares are always double what it says on the meter because the driver has to return to where he picked you up; that there’s some kind of toll to be paid; or simply that the meter is wrong.
Never pay more than what you read on the meter. Always try to get an approximation of the price before you set off - no matter how reluctant the driver is to give you one. Always carry a map and try to track your journey as you go, so that you can tell if you’re being taken on a city tour without your consent.
If you’re being taken to your hotel in Florence and you suspect the fare is rather high, then take a moment to consult the hotel staff. There’s nothing wrong with doing this and in fact, you may find that if the driver is trying his luck, he’ll have driven away before you come back out of the hotel, meaning you just got a free ride for your vigilance! Just make sure you get your luggage out of the car first!
If you have any complaints about taxi drivers, you’ll have more luck with the local tourist board than with the police or the city council. Make sure you remember the four-digit number of the taxi, printed on the car door, though sadly it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get any kind of compensation for your trouble.