Running around Florence, Part 2: My favorite routes

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.

Parco delle Cascine 

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*

Piazzale Michelangelo

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?!).

Parco dell’Anconella 

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!

I do have a Garmin that I use to track routes, time, etc. when possible, but if not, I like to use MapMyRun to generate the maps I included in this post.

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.

 

 

Running in Florence: Corri la Vita, Sunday, September 24

Autumn in Florence brings many positive things to mind: sagre, olio nuovo, vendemmie, and for me, the Corri la Vita, the most important charity run in all of Italy, which takes place the third Sunday in September every year since it began in 2003. Proceeds from the race benefit LILT Firenze, which is the Florence branch of the Italian League for the Fight against Cancer.

I first ran the Corri la Vita in 2010 when I had just arrived in Florence as a student. I wanted to participate in something that would help me get to know some locals and feel like an active participant in my adopted city. It was actually the second race I had ever registered for (the former being the Charleston, SC Cooper River Bridge Run), and I remember being really nervous but also really excited. I wholeheartedly recommend to students in Florence that they participate in this exciting event!! And if you don’t plan on participating, don’t bother trying to move around the city. We’re all involved!

This year’s 11 km race begins and ends in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Registration is open until September 22: for EUR 10 you receive an official Salvatore Ferragamo T-shirt and bib number; for EUR 15 you can receive a bib number with microchip to register your race time.

Last year the race hosted over 35,000 participants and raised EUR 550,000.

You can download the registration form here and bring it to any of the following registration points:

LILT Firenze Viale D. Giannotti, 23 – Firenze, tel. 055 576939
Firenze Marathon Viale Fanti, 2 – Firenze, tel. 055 5522957
L’Isolotto dello Sport Via dell’Argingrosso, 69 A/B – Firenze
Universo Sport Piazza Duomo, 6/r – Firenze

See you in the Piazza on the morning of the race!

 

Firenze Multistars 2017

On April 28 and 29 of this year I had the pleasure of being asked to return to the 30th edition of the Firenze Multistars (Zerneri Acciai Trophy) event that takes place annually at the Firenze Atletica stadium, just outside Florence´s city center. I was really thankful to the entire Multistars team because I had participated as a translator at the event the previous year and I had a way better time than I could have possibly imagined. While I´ve been having the time of my life traveling and running outdoors whenever I can squeeze in the time, years had passed since I´d been on the track. Not to mention I was witnessing world class athletes train, perform and compete right in front of me. Track and field is always my favorite summer Olympic sport to watch, so to be at the live show was an amazing experience.

This year when asked if I would be available I said yes without even checking my calendar! I had just started a new job and wasn´t sure how stressed or tired I would be, but I know I wanted to hang out at the track that weekend. The best part about being around the athletes is that nobody cares if you, too, show up post-workout to try and observe and copy some of their warm up/cool down routines.

The story of the Firenze Multistars is lovely. Its founder, Gianni Lombardi dreamed of organizing an international athletic meeting. He, together with his wife and daughter, Barbara (now the main organizer of the event) decided to go for it despite limited resources. Through the help of friends, they were able to put together an event that today is known as the meeting dell’amicizia — the friendship meet.

The first time I translated at the meet, I was working with a judge from the International Association of Athletics Federations,  the international governing body for athletics. The organization sends an international judge to the Multistars event every year for anti-doping procedures, and I got to be in on the action. I learned about how the heptathlon and decathlon competitors are corralled after their events and closely monitored throughout the entire meet, and then randomly selected for drug testing. I worked with the Italian medics and the IAAF judge to be sure that everyone understood each other. Confusion, adrenaline and nerves were all high and athletes´ integrity is on the line, so it was a really emotionally charged experience.

Me with Firenze Marathon President Giancarlo Romiti

The best parts of the Multistars event however were the excellent sportsmanship and passion exhibited by all involved — athletes, trainers, families, spectators, and tons of volunteers, many of whom I got to know pretty well just chatting and watching the competitions. Everyone was completely involved in helping the athletes do their best and achieve the most points possible. Barbara was amazing at making sure athletes were given the best opportunities. I loved watching her and her dad try to gauge where the wind came from to time the high jumps, or where to place the sand pit for long jumps. The team ran around everywhere to make sure everything was in the right place at the right time! To experience the technical expertise and effort that goes into an athletic event really made me appreciate the coaches I had at Marshall High School a long time ago!

The whole weekend culminated in the Firenze Multistars party, a super fun event where all involved congratulated the athletes and prizes were given out for winners, personal best times, and of course Miss and Mister Multistar! This was also where I got to embarrass myself as the ¨official¨ presenter. I was able to ham it up for awhile until a kind soul finally relieved me of my duties so I could go join the party too.

Congratulations to all who participated in the 30th anniversary of the Firenze Multistars, and thank you sincerely for giving me a chance to participate. I hope to see you all back in Florence next year!

Me and the beautiful Barbara with the 2017 MISTERS