Sight Running in Rome
Wherever in the world I go my running shoes are either on my feet or in my luggage. Who doesn’t love exploring a new city? Combine your wanderlust with that energizing high from your natural endorphins and you have the perfect recipe for seeing the city and staying fit. This style of exercising is becoming increasingly popular and these days the travel industry has named the trend ‘Sightrunning’. Where is the best place to sight run in the world? Rome.
Rome is often dubbed by the guides of the city as an open-air museum. Literally every corner of the city you venture to has something, beautiful, famous, or ancient! Coming from a seasoned runner and intrepid traveler, I can definitely say that running in Rome is quite unlike running anywhere else in the world… If you know where you’re going that is! This article explores where to run in Rome and some essential tips to make you’re run unforgettable.
Where to run in rome?
The historical center of Rome is home to countless beautiful churches, monuments, and archaeological sites that make a picture perfect backdrop for your run in Rome! Surprisingly, the center of Rome is not as big a city as you may think. It is easily achievable to see the main sights of Rome, or the highlights of Rome, in a 5-10k run. To put that into perspective, every day I operate a relaxed 8k running tour of Rome that passes the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, River Tiber, Vatican, St. Peters Basilica, Castel Sant Angelo, Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. A tip from myself would be to go early and beat the traffic! Although it’s not as bad as people make out, the roads in Rome are probably crazier than wherever you’re reading this from. Stay alert, and cross in the right places!
The River Tiber
The river Tiber has been the bloodline of Rome for over 2000 years! It snakes through the center of Rome and provides one of the best running routes in Rome. What I love the most about running down by the Tiber is the tranquility, temperature, and ornate bridges. When the city is hot and chaotic the cycle path along the river is the perfect place to cool down and let the water drown out the cars. The path conveniently goes all the way up the river which makes it super simple as you don’t have to worry about directions, you just need to remember whats flight of stairs to back to street level on the way back. Long-distance runners can follow the track along the river north past Stadio Olimpico all the way out of the city into farmland.
This is the Romans’ favorite hang out spot on a long summer day and probably not what you would expect of a conventional park. It covers a vast 200 hectares consisting of farmland, fields and woodland. Don’t be surprised when you encounter wildlife and livestock en route – or if a track is blocked because a flock of sheep is occupying it! Amongst nature are plenty of Roman ruins to be found including villas, catacombs, aqueducts & the famous Appia Antica – the first Roman highway! I’ve traveled well and Caffarella definitely places in my top 10 trail runs ever! The park is situated just outside the historical center and can be reached using the Metro A Line to Colli Albani.
My favourite of Rome’s seven hills is Janiculm Hill – the pace of life here is the opposite of Rome’s chaotic center. Located in the green part of Janiculum Hill is the divine Villa Pamphili. The luxury villa and gardens were once home to the insanely wealthy Doria Pamphili family. Today these picture-perfect gardens are now a park for all to use and enjoy. The route around the outside of the park is about 5k. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the tortoises in the pond, or stop off at the delightful cafe for a well-deserved coffee after!
Earlybird catches the worm
Run early in Rome. It makes a huge difference. Particularly if you are planning to run in the historic center because after 9 am the roads get manic and after 10 am the areas around the major attractions get busy. The last thing you want on the run of a lifetime is to be spending time focusing on dodging pedestrians and traffic. Remember that Rome can exceed 35 degrees / 100 Fahrenheit in late spring, summer, and early autumn. Beat the heat.
Water Fountains Galore
Fresh drinking water for all was a strong ethos for the Ancient Romans which lead to the mighty aqueducts. Modern Romans decided in 1874 that there should be free drinking water fountains all over the city – today there are over 2000 fountains in Rome! Super convenient for us runners! Bring a bottle if you like, or get stuck in and do it the roman way! There’s actually a free app that tells you where every drinking fountain is available on the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.
Take a look inside
Make sure to pop inside the churches and explore the courtyards that you pass, you never know what you might find! One of my favorite ways to spice up my running tours is to visit the Pantheon as they open in the morning, and also the nearby Chiesa di San Ignazio. Experiencing these incredible buildings by yourself is a feeling that will stay with you forever!
Good Running Shoes
This one should go without saying… but most of the historical center is covered by those picturesque little cobble stones that everyone loves. If you decide to go running in Rome without the right running shoes they can be unforgiving!