I don’t know why, but when I truly get burnt to a crisp by the often not-so-sunny life in Tuscany, I think of taxi cabs. I’ve done it before and I will do it again.
Maybe it helps me realize this too will pass.
So I cheer myself up by the realization that the taxi situation in Florence has, hopefully forever, been changed for the better by a new cooperative of all-female taxi drivers – inTaxiFirenze.
As most visitors to Florence know taxi rides are quite expensive. However, they are also one of the only ways to get home if you’re out past bus hours and far away. Going in groups is one way to cut the cost, but night time rates include an extra fee.
Also, in most instances you can’t just flag down a cab; you must call by phone for one or go to a taxi stand (in front of the train station, in Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza San Marco, Porta Romana, behind the Duomo, etc.).
Two months ago, I had to call for cabs for ten clients in the rain. To call, you give the address where you need to be picked up to a phone operator and wait for the dispatcher to give the name of the taxi which is coming to pick you up (e.g., “Parigi 23”). The dispatcher will also tell you how long before the taxi arrives, which usually is within three to five minutes. To get three cabs, I had to call three times. On the second call the dispatcher, who had caller i.d., argued with me about whether this was the first cab or an extra. On the third call the operator refused to answer.
Supposedly, women traveling alone in a taxi are entitled to a 10% discount between the hours of 9pm to 2am. There is also a discount of 15% for hospital destinations between the visiting hours of 1pm-3pm and 7-9pm. These discounts will not be applied unless you insist on them.
But back to the good news. There are nine women who have formed an all-female taxi service in Florence that operates from 5am to 11pm daily. All of the drivers in this new taxi cooperative speak English. Word is that they are becoming quite popular and are getting a lot of negative pressure from the good-ol’-boy network in the taxi union. More information about this service (in Italian) can be found at: www.inTaxiFirenze.it, Their telephone number is longer and not as easy to remember as those for regular cabs, but in a cell phone’s memory it is just a click away: 055 200 1326.
InTaxiFirenze also offers a frequent-rider program. After ten rides you get a discount of 5 euro off the fare for the next trip. “Service with a smile” has never been a thought that entered my head when I entered a Florentine taxi until I met the ladies at inTaxi.