Destination Run: Florence, Italy
If you want to visit the heart of Italy, Florence is about as close as you are going to get. Firenze, in Italian, or Florence, for most of us, is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. Surrounded by parts of the Alps, one will find a fantastic city filled to the brim with Renaissance art, history, culture & fantastic cuisine and wine. A visit here should and must be on your to-do list if you like one or all of the previously mentioned descriptors.
High season for visiting is usually during the summer but, keep in mind, most of Europe take their holidays around August so you may find some local shops, cafes and restaurants closed. It is also very hot and humid in the summer so you will have to be strategic if you plan to do a running tour of the city. Planning an early morning run would be your best solution to help you beat the heat and sleeping tourists while, also at the same time, getting your fill of what the city has to offer. Plus, an added bonus, you will get some amazing Instagram photos and selfies without pesky bystanders. That alone should be enough motivation to entice you to wake up early.
The city itself is ancient and many of the streets are old and can be a challenge to run upon, so keeping the runs leisurely would be in your best interest, as well as being mindful of staying on sidewalks as roads are narrow and limited rules tend to apply to driving with some not being forgiving if you get in the way. But the city has plenty of options for fantastic runs from the change in elevation to fantastic views, all to keep your mind occupied.
Here are two favorite runs to give a try on your first or next trip to Florence, Italy.
River Run and Hill Repeats (Click here to access route)
This close to 9 mile/14.3 kilometer run starts at the beginning of Parco Delle Cascine near the Monumento al Principe Indiano. Run parallel along the river Arno, through the park, towards Florence center in which you will go to the 8th bridge. You will pass the famous Ponte Vecchio at the 7th bridge, which is a medieval covered bridge, current day now filled with jewelry shops. At the 8th bridge, take a right over and then your 3rd left, following this street until to get to a fork in the road and bear right.
There will be a wall to pass through called Porta San Miniato, recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. Next will be a gradually progressing uphill until you see a dark, wide, and steep staircase called Scalea del Monte alle Croci, that will lead you to Piazzale Michelangelo. Here is where you will have an amazing view looking across the river towards Florence city center. Take a few moments here to admire the view and grab that epic selfie before you make your way back down the stairs and towards the bridge. Instead of crossing the bridge stay straight following the river back towards the beginning of Parco Delle Cascine, crossing at Ponte all’Indiano bridge.
Historic Tour (Click here for route)
While there are so many great things to see and do, this condensed little over 3 mile/5 kilometers historical tour will hit what you should definitely see if you only have one day to visit Florence. Beginning outside the massive Duomo di Firenze Cathedral, or formally known Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, you can admire the colored marble facade and red brick dome and along standing next to it, the Giotto tower. Passing around behind the cathedral you will find yourself on Via del Proconsolo, passing Palazzo Pazzi on your left. Follow until you pass the Bargello National Museum and take a left onto Via della Vigna Vecchia where you will pass Vivoli Ice Cream Shop on your right. Go ahead to the next intersection and take a quick right then left around Piazza di Santa Croce and take in the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze where the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo lay.
Exit the plaza onto Borgo dei Greci and follow until you come upon Palazzo Gondi and then Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the city. Here you will be able to view Palazzo Vecchio, a 13th-century palace and current day town hall, where a replica of the Statue of David stands by the entryway. Making your way to the right, you can pass through the Uffizi Gallery where The Birth of Venus and several other primitive and Renaissance masterpieces are housed. When you get to the river, take a right and then the first left over the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Go over the bridge and stay straight until you come to Palazzo Pitti on your left. Behind the complex, you will find the massive Boboli Gardens, filled with 15th-16th-century statues and fountains, where you will end your tour. Meander around the park for as little or as long as you like.
After your morning run, you should be ready for a fantastic lunch or dinner of antipasti, pasta and treated with gelato for the epic finish. First, grab an apero at Grand Hotel Minerva rooftop pool but expect 20€ drinks. Recommendations for eating include Borgo Antico and Che Ti Garba. If you get bored of city adventures, you can easily take a wine tour of the Tuscany Region or hop on an hour train to go see the leaning tower of Pisa. Either way, you will have your fill of things to see, eat and do.