12 June, 2010

Holidaying in Italy (3): taxis in Rome

I have been asked by the Roman Taxi Drivers’ Association to include the following supplement

The proper environment for a Roman taxi driver is standing around talking to his friends. Don’t forget when you step into his cab that you are distracting him from this important activity.

Your driver likes to relax with his seat well back. If you can’t get in, lie down on the back seat

It is his cab and he chooses the radio programme. It is not his fault if he is slightly hard of hearing and has to have it on loud. In any case, football is more important than passengers.

The suspension on the taxi is not your concern. If your driver feels it appropriate to drive at high speed over kerbstones, potholes and cobbles in order to get to his next coffee your destination he will do so.

What keeps the traffic moving in Rome is an informal race between taxis, buses and the police. Your driver is a determined winner.

The shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. Sit back and enjoy the view.

Red lights are for wimps.

When approaching the gridlocked roundabout in the Piazza Venezia close your eyes. Your driver will also close his.

The precise minutiae of the Roman street system is not the business of your driver. He is not Google Earth. It is useful to have some reference point for your destination, such as ‘100m from the Pantheon, which is a large ancient building near the Senate’ or ‘It doesn’t matter if you can’t find it, I’m happy to walk’ . But don’t worry, your driver can read a map while driving, talking to his wife on the mobile ‘phone and snatching a crafty cigarette.

At the conclusion of your journey read the amount on the meter and courteously offer your driver that sum. This is the opening point of the negotiations. Why were you unaware that there is a supplement after 3pm on alternate weekdays? Your baggage took up space in the car, didn’t it? Your driver does not carry change; he is not the Banca di Roma.

Treat your driver with respect and he will serve you right.

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