I need to state from the outset of this blog that I hate running.
I like the thought of the health benefits from running plus I feel great after a good run. But actually doing it is an issue. However, I do run. Not just for the health benefits but also because it forces me into the unknown. Running is another mechanism that puts me into the heart of a new city and culture.
First Run In Rome
My first run in Rome is a typical example of my foreign running experiences. I’ll also share that I always have some anxiety about the first run in a new city.
- Is running something people do here?
- Where do I go to run?
- How do I get there?
This was the case in Rome. I don’t know if Romans run. This may sound silly but there are a lot of places where running is not something people normally do. So when I walk out of my apartment to find a place to run I pay close attention to what others around me are doing and wearing. Are people running? Dressed for exercise? You can learn a good deal about a place and the people when you closely observe how they are dressed and what they are doing.
In Italy, I’ve found that people dress well when out in public then change into exercise clothing to exercise. They typically don’t walk to the gym in gym clothes. Apparently, I’m the only one sluffing about the streets in gym shorts and a tank top on the way to the gym.
Where To Run In Rome, How To Get There
Before I leave the apartment I do look for a place to run such as a park or a river. Then aim for it but since I don’t take my phone with me when I run, I don’t have exact directions. Not knowing exactly how to get where I am going is a great way to see a new city. You can read more about that in my previous blog.
In Rome, our apartment is near the Tiber River, so that’s where I aimed for my first run. There is always a little anxiety when you don’t know how to get to where you are going. It turns out that the route to the Tiber River from the apartment crosses St. Peter’s Square. That was a wonderful surprise!
The Tiber River For Running Rome
When I reached the river I could not find a way to get from street level to the Tiber which is located 10-meter below the street and flanked by cut stone embankments. Below I could see a well-maintained bike path which I assumed I could use to run, but how to get there? Eventually, I discovered that there is a set of stairs adjacent to most of the bridges. There are many bridges crossing the river on this part of the Tiber and they are all spectacular.
The path by the river is wonderfully cool, shaded, and mostly quiet. The river runs slow thus ducks and other birds lazily float by. The river passes under a number of bridges some built in the 1970’s others built in the 100’s.
In places, the path is lined with cafès and bars. By the way, a ‘bar’ in Italy does not imply alcohol, it usually means coffee and probably includes alcohol. The Italians are not fanatical about alcohol laws and don’t view drinking as a moral fault.
This first run in Rome was a success. This is not always the case. In a new city many times I’ve walked to a park to find it paved and treeless or set up primarily for small children. Or I walk to a river that is pathless or lined with trash. But failure is part of the adventure and to be honest, I’m not really disappointed when I can’t run.