Vacation Running: Florence, Italy


A few weeks ago, I posted about how to plan for fitness on vacation.

Now I'm back with a recap of my favorite run in Italy!

My husband and I spent three nights in Florence during a trip to Europe earlier this month. We agreed afterward that Florence was our favorite destination.

It's a beautiful and charming city with an incredible amount of history and culture to take in. We visited museums and wandered for miles, filling up our water bottles from free public fountains along the way. We also took breaks to rate gelato flavors (chocolate orange was the winner). Gelaterias are on almost every corner.

  One thing I noticed about the city infrastructure during our first afternoon in Florence was the incredibly narrow sidewalk. It varies by street, but in general it's difficult for two to walk (or run!) side by side in the historic area.

This fact, combined with generally crazy traffic (cars, scooters, and bicycles), and the high summer tourist season meant it was not a good idea to run near our centrally-located hotel.

I read about the busy "Historic Centre" in advance of this trip, but it was even more full of people and action than expected.

  On our second day in the city, we completed the Advanced Bike Tour in the hills of Tuscany through iBike Italy. It was a wonderful day and I highly recommend it. However, the hills were much steeper than I was used to biking on, being from the Midwest and all.

We planned to fit in a run the morning after the bike tour. It was a good "shake out the legs" workout after climbing hills on bikes for hours.

On this run, I didn't worry about how far we went or how fast. Instead, we decided on 75 minutes and stuck with it. We walked south of our hotel towards the Arno River, to find a wider sidewalk and a park we had biked through the day before.

  It turns out a small map and compass are key to travel running. We ended up getting lost briefly on winding, angled streets. This short detour took us through the Universedad di Firenze area, which leads to a quiet, residential neighborhood.

We ended up finding a wider river sidewalk path southeast of the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge"), a famous pedestrian bridge with dozens of small jewelry and goldsmith shops. This bridge was previously the only way to cross the Arno River in the city, until 1218.

The run took us through the Parco dell' Anconella, a park with lovely shaded trees and views of people rowing quietly on the river. After running through the park, we turned around and wandered back towards our hotel to start our final day of sightseeing.

The running experience was the perfect way to end our trip to Italy and proof that you don't have to completely give up your training regimen, even when you're on vacation.

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