Sunday, November 28, 2010

Milan's Taxis

I follow a very VERY good blog by a New York cabbie. Great shots from the cabbie's point-of-view (I particularly like the ones that frame the shot with the cab window), pensive musings that prod, but don't provoke, and the possibility to understand the life of a cab driver, better. In case you're interested it's

So I got the bug to take some photos of Milan's cabs and their life in the city, to share with him and you (plus a few "let the buyer beware" cautions)...More......

Let's start with the "Let the buyer beware" cautions...that have nothing to do with legitimate cabbies.

When you arrive in train stations and airports in Italy, as you exit the passenger-only areas, or get near the exit, men with slightly furtive looks saunter your way. "Oh god, he's either a flasher, or is going to beg for money" jumps to mind. Or maybe someone trying to sell you the local version of the Brooklyn Bridge. That last fleeting impression is closer to the truth, because out of the side of their mouths come half-whispered, "Taxi?" To borrow a phrase:


These are pirate drivers, that is, private people with private cars and no license to be driving for a living, no guarantees of service...and no insurance.

Be patient. Just outside of Italian train stations, airports and scattered about town there are official taxi stands, marked with an orange sign that says, well, "TAXI."

There's no hailing of cabs on the street. (There shouldn't be, anyway, but if the Cosmos is kind, and the cabbie is letting someone off right at your feet, well....) You'll have to go to a taxi stand, or call one of the local taxi companies (find this info online before you go, or at the "Info" point in the airport/train station).

Official Milanese taxis are white, though can be of any kind of car. A buck's a buck: some rent out advertising space on the sides of their cabs. They have the sign on the top (illuminated when available, off when not).

IF they belong to a consortium with a central network for fielding calls for taxis, then they'll have that logo relatively visible on the front doors, or front fenders.

If they are official taxis, but don't belong to a consortium they'll have a piteously small logo of the city of Milan, but it will be so small, you'll be able to see it only when you're right up to the cab. In the interest of public service, I have found a sample on the web, and post it here.

A word to the wise should be sufficient.

Now on to the photos I snapped, yesterday, of Milanese cabs and their life in the city. It was supposed to be a gorgeous day. As you can see, the snow clouds (complete with a couple of flakes) rolled in heavily by noon, but I already was determined to get those shots.

This one is snapped on the Piazza del Duomo opposite to the church. This corner is buzzin' with folks. Because the light was so low thanks to the clouds and the ticking clock (I think it was around 5:30 P.M.), any kind of movement registered as a blur. If you look closely, there's a man on a bike on the right hand side. Taxis come and go with an amazing rapidity, maybe because Christmas shopping already is starting to heat up. Sometimes at this stand there are a couple dozen taxis, but today, only two or three at a time, before getting loaded up with another passenger, and heading off.

This one was snapped in Via Torino, a very busy street leading into the Piazza del Duomo. A couple of years ago, City Hall widened the sidewalks, and narrowed the traffic to two lanes, so it's almost always crowded with trams and taxis, let alone brave and patient (?) drivers in private cars.

Hope you enjoyed this quick look at Milan's cabs. We're heading into Christmas light season, soon, yeah! They'll be switched on on the 7th of December, Milan's patron saint day (St. Ambrose). Stay tuned.


NYC taxi photo said...

very cool! oh and thanks for the shout out! what are those cars at each end? i recognize the one in the middle of course, we're getting more and more prius cabs in the city, the front one looks a little like a nissan, but i also thought the one in the back was a mercedes i see up close that i was completely wrong with that guess.

looks like your city too has not just one model being used for cabs. I'd love to hear more about what one should know when taking cabs there.

Star said...

Very glad to mention your great blog, really. Uhhh, what are the other cars? All I can manage is that they're white four doors. More tidbits about taking taxis in Milan? Some are starting to use the mobile connection ATM card (called a "bancomat," as is the ATM, istelf) payment system, but I'd bet they aren't many. Companies are able to buy a block of (cumbersome) coupons. Everyone else: cash (and try to have close to the exact change, thank you). Taxi licenses in town are limited in number (the drivers say there are too many cabs; the riders say there are big gaps in service, especially during peak hours/holidays, and would like to see more taxis). The taxi ride starts off with probably close to E.5 when you get in during the day; there's a night time and holiday surcharge. Tipping--unless the difference literally is pennies--usually consists of rounding up to the nearest Euro. From what I hear on the news, robberies are very very few and far between...still, but who knows for how long. Can't think of much else of note, except that--compared to some US cabs I've been in--they're all kept up well. Any specific questions? (that a non-cabbie driver can answer)

Francesca Maggi said...

I love your post and would like to put a link to it thru your taxi stand photo on my blog!

FMaggi, Author
Burnt by the Tuscan Sun

Star said...

FMaggi, very kind of you to ask, go ahead and link. Thanks! I've just checked out your blog, lovely!

Taxi from Malpensa To Milan said...

Great dude. Like this blog.
Thanks for share with us.

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