- Going to Italy? You can actually run while you’re there (although be honest – you probably don’t want to)
- Rome’s Villa Borghese and Villa Ada Savoia have enough trails for shorter runs; for long runs, follow the Tiber river
- Florence is a little tougher to do longer runs, but once you get out of the crowded city there are some beautiful views of the surrounding area
Bridget and I decided to get away from all of the holiday craziness this year by disappearing to Italy during December. We figured it would be fun to go get reacquainted with some of the key milestones of modern civilization – the Roman empire and the Renaissance. Oh, and maybe do some eating and shopping too.
I was a little concerned with doing my RR100 training runs in between glasses of chianti and forkfuls of cacio de pepe. I couldn’t remember seeing a whole lot of runners during previous visits to Rome and the weather, although sunny, was going to be borderline freezing during our visit. Undaunted, I brought my stuff.
Good news: you can have some awesome runs in Rome and Florence.
In Rome, I snuck in two great runs – one 10-miler to the north of the city though the gorgeous Villa Borghese and one 20-miler sticking close to the Tiber.
The Villa Borghese is a wonderful place to run – thanks to Cardinal Borghese’s forward-thinking vision of laying our a huge area of parkland, completed with long and wide pedestrian walkways (he was probably a runner). There is plenty to look at – Romans on their evening promenade, pick-up soccer games, ancient artwork – you could do a number of loops inside the park and never get bored. If you do decide to venture out, I would recommend going northeast to the Villa Ada Savoia, which has another few miles of trails to explore.
If you need to get in more miles (20+), just follow the river. There’s a run/bike trail along most of the Tiber – although it’s nestled 30 feet below the city and only has views of the imposing floodwalls until you get pretty far south. Wanting to see a bit more of Rome itself, I stayed up top, which is just as easy to navigate, although you’ll need to wait at intersections. Plus you can stop and read about all of the bridges in Rome – from early Roman arches to more modern spans. It’s cool.
One other awesome thing about running in Rome – public water fountains. They’re everywhere and the water is tasty and cold.
Florence is another great place to run. While we were there I only had time to do one morning 8-miler, but if you stick to a “follow the river” strategy there is plenty of safe running room along the Arno. You’ll get lovely views of all of the bridges, including the Ponte Vecchio, as well as postcard-ready shots of the city. It gets a little crowded in the heart of the city (as you would imagine) and the sidewalks are narrow so you may need to do quite a bit of tourist/car/bus/bicycle dodging.
Filling your water bottle is more of an issue in Florence than Rome – I didn’t spot any public water fountains. However, if it’s normal hours and you bring a few Euro with you, there are plenty of places to pick up bottled water given the touristy nature of the city.