Tourists trapped in illegal taxi at Rome airport

Two Swedish tourists were on the receiving end of an illegal taxi service at Fiumicino airport on 26 June, according to a report in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

After meeting the Swedes in arrivals and convincing them to accept his service, the driver is reported to have locked the tourists in his nine-seater rental van for almost half an hour while he sourced seven other passengers to take into Rome.

The trip would have earned him a total of €450 had the police not intervened. Instead the driver was handed a €2,000 fine and had his vehicle seized.

A separate incident in recent days involves another illegal taxi operator who faces criminal proceedings for assaulting two members of a Bangladeshi family who realised they were being conned and refused to board the van at the last minute.

Police say the modus operandi used by the illegal drivers always follows the same lines. They meet customers in arrivals, offering to take them into Rome for €50 each, then lead them to the awaiting vehicle in which the unsuspecting tourists are locked until the driver returns with a "full house" of clients.

If you are being asked for €50 per head then it is advisable to take a white, Rome-licensed taxi. These fares are fixed. The official one-way fare for ordinary taxis between Fiumicino and the centro storico of Rome is €48. Taxi fares between the centre of Rome and Ciampino airport are also fixed, at €30.

One other word of caution. Some of the taxis at Fiumicino airport are Fiumicino-registered instead of Rome-registered. The way to tell is by looking at the city registration on the driver’s door. If it is a Fiumicino-registered vehicle it is best to ask the price of the journey to Rome before starting off.