Editors Note: This is a guest post by Aoife O’Carroll of Nova Car Hire. I have no business relationship with Nova Car Hire, and accepted this blog post purely in the interest of expanding the resources in the Tripped-Out Running series. I have never had the opportunity to run in Rome but after reviewing this, I certainly hope to do so someday.
Have Trainers, Will Travel
Just because you’re away from home, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your fitness routine. Jog off some of that canoli and pizza, while getting a taste for the city you could never hope to experience behind the grimy windows of a tour bus. If your accommodation is in the city centre, you’re just minutes away from runs in the Villa Borghese Park (entering at the south end) and the Tiber River paths, and within easy reach of some of the city’s biggest attractions.
Villa Borghese Park
Starting at the Piazzale Napoleone in the blissfully tree-shaded Villa Borghese Park, a 1km circle of the Pincio takes you past forests of statues and palm trees, with the grassy 400-metre horse track at the Piazza di Dienna making a good spot to do a few sprints. This lovely oasis of green is intersected by scores of paths that wind in every direction, so your best option is to set your stopwatch for an hour and just take it all in.
Take to the Streets
If you like the feel of asphalt beneath your feet, you can chalk up an all-riverside 8Km by crossing the Ponte Risorgimento just off the northwest corner of the Villa Borghese and following the bicycle track along the west bank of the famous Tiber north to the Ponte Flaminio. Cross back over the Tiber here, and run back along the path down the other side of the river.
At the Villa Doria Pamphili or the Villa Ada, just a short jog northwest of the Villa Borghese, you’ll find the closest thing Rome has to an urban jungle. Trails run from the lake near the centre and eventually return to it, with a route of about 5km on a natural surface bringing you from the main entrance to the Quattro Venti arch, past the Villa Doria, and around the lake. The number of other trails in the park means that you can run for more than an hour without doubling back on yourself. The terrain is an interesting mix of hills and flat grassy areas. Bonus: a wonderful view of St. Peter’s.
Be Ben Hur
The surface at the Circus Maximus is simply loose earth, and the route is just over 1km long, but when in Rome… Imagine you’re a chariot racer in front of a 30,000-plus crowd and run at least one loop around. Get here by crossing the Palatine Bridge into the Trastevere and going behind the Museo Roma. The old chariot track links directly to a green space called the Carracella, which has an outside loop of about 1.2km and an inner loop of about 800 meters. Most important, it has sprinklers in summer, a drinking fountain, and toilets.
Viva the Via Appia Antica
Head back to the glory days of the Roman Empire on the ancient (car-free) Appian Way, which starts at the old gates of the twin-turreted San Sebastiano at the south end of the Caracalla. The cobblestones are more trainer-friendly than most of those you’ll find in Rome, and the route is lined with rows of cypress and umbrella pine, ancient statuary and ruins, grazing sheep, and even the famous catacombs.
Tips on Running in Rome
- Run early before the smog and the traffic become too heavy
- Keep to the pavements to avoid unpredictable drivers
- Abundant water fountains mean you won’t have to carry a bottle
- Don’t be insulted if other, local runners do not greet you
- And remember, if you’re racing in Rome and people start shouting what sounds like “Die! Die!,” they mean you no harm. ”Dai!” means “Go for it!”