We got to Rome late last night and had to be out the door by 6:30 am this morning to get to our tour, so we didn’t have much time to check out the taxi situation around our apartment. We walked out the door with two tired and cranky kids and started walking down the street.
Half the taxis we saw had passengers. The other half yelled out the window that they were off duty, or else just wagged their fingers at us (Do we really look that awful? Why won’t anyone pick us up?). We saw a few police officers ahead and asked them where we could get a taxi. They pointed us down the street, where we found exactly zero taxis.
We tried to hail a few more cabs from the corner, when a little old lady took pity on us and told us something in rapid Italian that we couldn’t understand. When she decided we were hopeless, she led us across the street to a group of three soldiers in their uniforms, and explained to them the situation. While one gave us the phone number for a cab company, the other two started hailing taxis for us. After a couple with passengers drove by, one of the soldiers stepped out in the street and aggressively waved down a taxi with a passenger who was clearly planning to go the other direction – but when an armed soldier waves that way, you pull over.
They had a serious talk that involved the word “bambini” multiple times. Based on my basic Italian skills, I’m fairly certain the soldier was telling the driver to kick out his current customer so that the family with little kids could get in.
The very unhappy driver saw another taxi driving down the other side of the road and did some loud honking and waving, then drove off as quickly as he could when it arrived. Luckily, this driver let us in. It probably helped that we still had the three soldiers standing behind us.
And we made it to our tour on time.