Rome is for Runners

by Danilo Brunetti

Thanks to its lush villas and vast city parks, Rome is a heaven for joggers, not to mention the many urban itineraries—such as a tour of the bridges along the Tiber River—which offer a unique look at the Eternal City. In addition, Rome’s gentle climate makes it the unofficial jogging capital of Europe, and the city proudly hosts Italy’s most important marathon every year in March. As far as health is concerned, most doctors agree that running is good for the heart, promotes better sleeping habits, has a relaxing effect, lowers high-blood pressure, and burns fat. The options for a jogger in Rome are numerous, so lace up your sneakers and try them all! Join the ever-growing crowd of city joggers and enjoy a whole new—and invigorating—way to discover Rome.

Rome’s parks are without a doubt the most popular places to start for runners of every category, from professionals to beginners. Villa Doria Pamphilj, perhaps the widest park in Europe, offers a variety of scenic routes. The pedestrian bridge and rolling green hills dotted with statues, fountains, umbrella pines, and stunning architecture make for an ultra-memorable workout. Just be sure to keep running, as it’s easy to get distracted by the astonishing beauty of the surroundings. The villa is also complete with changing rooms, showers, drinking fountains, and a bar-bistrot.

Another breathtaking place to work out is lush Villa Sciarra. Follow one of the many paths that lead through a wonderland of fountains and dense vegetation.

For a rustic and rambling experience, try the “forest in the city,” as Villa Ada is affectionately known. Its hills and lawns slope every which way, making for a challenging leg workout, among various species of animals, as well as modern comforts like public restrooms and water fountains. To combine your run with a full-body workout, there’s also a fully equipped obstacle course near the park’s main lake.

Villa Borghese is perhaps the best known park in the city, not only for its central position and artistic events, such as outdoor concerts and exhibitions, but also for its immense scenic variety that includes temples, a small lake, and stunning architectural wonders, all shaded by majestic pines.

But these four best-known parks are only scratching the surface. If you’re just getting started, check out Villa Torlonia with its three delightful museums, cozy Villa Paganini, and Villa Gordiani, full of sites of archeological interest.

In October, when the weather is mild, Rome is a paradise for runners, as they trace the breezy city-streets to the lush greenery of the parks. For an excursion slightly beyond the city limits, try the archeological park of Appia Antica. The ancient road is a delight for the eye, but rocky and risky for the average city runner. For a smoother route, try the paths of the Park of Aqueducts, the walkway around the Baths of Caracalla, or the lakeside path in the EUR district.And to run in history, head to Circus Maximus, once Rome’s largest racetrack, now an urban runner’s heaven, or the running track of the Olympic Stadium, where the giant marble statues of athletes cheer you as you follow the footsteps of Olympic champions of the past.