Where to run in Florence
Have you just moved to Florence and are finding your jeans aren’t fitting anymore? The endless pasta, cheese, wine, cocktails and ice cream are starting to catch on to you? We have all been there. Florence is an undisputed giant in the food and drink game, but it is also surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning nature, and so we are here to persuade you to get your tennis shoes on – a run in the Tuscan hills is very tough to beat.
The city centre is not an ideal place for running, for obvious reasons – nobody wants to dodge hordes of tourists, American fashion students and Italian school kids. But due to all the alleyways, small and unused streets that saturate Florence, one can get running in relative peace. Just make sure to keep the music low and an eye out for a wayward Lambretta. Here are a few different runs you can do in between the morning coffee and the afternoon Campari Spritz.
A trail that is 3.5km long across 395 acres; doing the whole circumference is about a 7km run. You can of course stop before that, or do laps, depending on your fitness. Cascine is a lovely spot to run in anytime in the day. Just make sure Cascine market is not taking place, as the entire park gets very full (as a side note; if you are taking a day off of exercise, Cascine market is well worth a visit. Tuesday’s from 8am). Also, I would recommend not running in Cascine at night, unless you fancy a visit to the Florentine Moulin Rouge, which opens every night at Cascine Park. For a daytime run though, I cannot stress it enough.
Okay, before we go sending mobs of joggers rioting up and down the Florentine bridges, obviously stay away from this run on the weekends, or when the commutes are taking place. If it’s a quiet part of the day, the bridges can be a lovely way to see Florence. The Arno is beautiful, and running along it can be a beautiful experience. Cascine is of course on the river and as we stated already, it’s a good run, but jogging through the city is also a nice experience. The bridges are good if you are a casual runner, as you can gauge how far you are going by the bridges: two bridges this week, three next week… etc. Depending on the time of day, the banks are not too busy, and this is perfect for a quick run when you don’t have time to go to the moon and back. But obviously, don’t go running up and down the Ponte Vecchio, sweating on tourists and bumping into someone’s Nonna. Away from the centre is better for everyone.
The Mountain Run
Length? 5.5km. Starting on the south side of the Ponte Vecchio, make your way east and down the – usually emptier than the main road – alley, Via de’ Bardi. Continue until you get to Porta San Miniato, and right up that long, steep hill, Via di Belvedere. Once you conquer this mountain of a hill you have a nice flat bit of running to do, with an occasional view of the city and the hills. After about 1.5km, turn right again onto Viale Machiavelli and enjoy the beautiful scenery below. Your run will take you meandering through Giardino Bobolino and then over Giardino di Boboli, and it is a view you cannot get tired of. Eventually, you will reach Porto Romana, pass through it and continue on to Via Romana, which will take you back to your starting point, or thereabouts. Despite being close to the centre, this run is usually free of people, and a lovely trip if you can handle the hills.
If you have the energy for a 10km + run, why not go and visit the breathtaking beauty of Fiesole? Rub shoulders with the city’s elite. Run the streets written about by Henry James, Herman Hesse and E.M. Forster. Try to get as north as you can to avoid the crowds and set off, I would recommend, in Via San Domenico, but there are several routes to choose from. Depending on where you start and what route you take, the distance will vary, but it is another challenging run up some hills. Worth the effort.
The Stairway to Heaven
And for those of you feeling especially Rocky Balboa, head back to Porta San Miniato. Instead of the long hill to the right, look straight ahead. Lots and lots of stairs, all the way up to Missionario Francescano. From bottom to top it’s less than 500m, making this very much a sprint. Why spend an hour running when you can get the job done in a few minutes? Get to the top, catch your breath, and jog over to Piazzale Michelangelo. There is a beautiful view, a beautiful church, and you can enjoy the scenery while you take a break. Feeling better? Is the stitch gone? Back down the steps, rinse and repeat if you have the energy.