Jan
19
2010

How do you get a taxi in central Siena, Italy?

Siena taxis take a less direct route to the cathedral. (Photo by Gaspa - CC-BY)

Siena taxis take a gentler, longer route to the cathedral. (Photo by Gaspa - CC-BY)

You may have read that walking is the only way to see historic Siena. It’s true that nothing beats exploring it on foot, and also true that the hilly medieval city has banned most cars from the narrow, uneven streets in the city centre.

There is an efficient taxi service though, so if you are an enthusiastic sightseer with limited energy for walking, you can have help – at a price. The Radio Taxi system is well organised, but you need to call a cab to come to you. There’s only one taxi stand inside the traffic-controlled historic zone, and not necessarily any taxis there.

Calling a taxi in Siena – basic guide

  1. Pick a clear landmark for the taxi to come to. Try to have some idea how to pronounce the place.
  2. Call 0577 49222.¬† If you have a non-Italian cellphone, you may need to use 39, the country code for Italy – for example, on a UK mobile phone call 00 39 0577 49222. Name the place you want the taxi at clearly. Add ‘per favore‘ or ‘please’. You may get a response in English, maybe not.
  3. Relax when you hear a burst of fast Italian. There’s no need at all to try to understand. They are putting you on hold while finding you a taxi.
  4. Listen for a number. They tell you which number cab will be picking you up – possibly very soon. If they say it in Italian, and you don’t know Italian numbers, never mind. The cab is coming anyway. They are always white, in various models.
  5. Enjoy the ride. The looping one-way system means you may get a nice tour. Sit in front for the best views!
  6. Pay the meter price. Minimum if you’ve called is 5.75 euros – more on Sunday and public holidays.

Using taxis in Siena – more info

  1. The phone service only works from about 7am to 9pm.
  2. Do not call the number for Taxi Merci as suggested on some websites. This is for getting packages delivered within the historic zone – merci as in commercial.
  3. Taxis cannot get into every nook and cranny of the old city. A cab will get you up the hill to the main Duomo (Cathedral) square, but not the last few steps to the entrance.
  4. I don’t think the locals tip much, but drivers may expect a little something from tourists.
  5. There is a small official taxi stand in the Piazza Indipendenza. (Find it up from the Piazza del Campo at the start of Via delle Terme. Google Maps doesn’t show it.) Next most central place is on the northern edge of the historic zone at Piazza Matteotti¬† near the bus station.
  6. If you are in or near the main square, the Piazza del Campo, ask the taxi to come to the Palazzo Publico (town hall).

Download the current prices for Siena taxis.

Photo info – the flight of steps in the photo is the Scalinata di Giovanni Sabatelli leading from the Baptistery (Battistero) in Piazza San Giovanni to the Cathedral (Duomo).

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