It’s a beautiful autumn day in Florence and I am in a great mood for many reasons, but primarily because despite my anxiety about taking a risk and accepting less pay for less hours of work at a very stable, reputable job, I got to spend my morning out in the sun, on a long, much-needed run, and then got to take my time walking back home just enjoying being outside. Maybe I’m crazy, but some things don’t have a price tag.
I wanted to share my three favorite running routes/areas of the city with all the students who apparently just got into town (I hear you all under my apartment, watch what you say in Santo Spirito). When I was a student I got into running here because the gyms are crazy expensive and lack a lot of the amenities we are used to in the US (no towels?? no water?? no thanks). And as I’ve said before, it’s one of the best ways to explore a new city. However, sometimes you want to at least have an idea of where to start out. So here are my top three.
All of the maps start and end in Santo Spirito because this is actually what I do/where I live, but they really work if you are staying anywhere in the city center. The important thing is to get out of the dense traffic and into some green.
The Cascine Park is a large, green expanse located on the northeastern bank of the Arno river. Just past the American embassy, it hosts a large, open-air market every Tuesday, so it’s great to go for an early morning run, then pick up whatever you need on your way home!
Good to know:
- There is a water fountain at the far end of the park. However, there is no guarantee that it will be on. There are also fountains in the middle of the park, at the Piazzale delle Cascine.
- There are pay toilets at the Piazzale delle Cascine as well, but be sure to bring euro coins as they don’t always have change. Pro tip: the University’s agrarian campus is there too, and when the doors are unlocked you can sneak in and use the facilities for free! *Shh*
This is a classic route taken by many Florentine cyclists and runners, and is great if you want to get in some hill work. Piazzale Michelangelo is basically a large parking lot that overlooks the city, so although the piazza itself isn’t so beautiful, the views of the city on the way up are spectacular, and you definitely notice a difference in the air quality the higher up you go. The Piazzale is also on the way to San Miniato al Monte, so for a detour in the afternoon you can go hear the monks sing their gregorian chants.
Good to know:
- There is also a pay toilet before you reach the piazzale, on the right side of the road.
- The old Swiss embassy, now a hotel, is about 2 miles up, and is a good place to stop if you need a bathroom or some water. They are really nice and helpful. (You never know, have you seen the news lately?!).
This park is smaller than the Cascine, but is great because it has lots of water fountains and additional workout equipment. Located on the southwestern end of the city, Firenze Sud, it is a long, flat expanse of trails, so a little less intense than the pavement on the other two routes. This park is definitely less frequented than the Cascine, so it’s nice for long, solitary runs. Just be sure to be aware of your surroundings (I always have my keys in my hand…just in case).
Good to know:
- If you want to do a longer (10 miles +) run, start out on the Piazzale loop and when you get to Piazza Ferrucci, go right instead of left to add Anconella.
- Public water fountains are found inside the park.
- To my knowledge there are no pay toilets on this route, at least not on the running trails. So go prepared.
- The neighborhood to the South of the park, Gavinana, is a cool part of Florence that is rarely frequented by tourists. The Firenze Sud Sporting Club is a great place to get a pizza!
The running season is in full swing and events are happening all around Tuscany every weekend. Check out Lorenzo Berchielli‘s running club Associazione Rondinella del Torrino page for the calendar of running events, and feel free to be in touch with me if you plan to be in Florence for an extended period of time and want to join a team, or learn about how to get your certificato medico to participate in races like the upcoming Firenze Marathon.