Part 4: Running in Rome

At last! The final installment is here.

Running in Rome was a fun experience.  It did not result in any new and exciting pace changes like Paris did, but it was still quite an adventure.

My first run in Rome was with my wonderful hubby.  We were very fortunate that my family was with us in Rome so they watched Zain while we ran together.  I’m so glad we were able to do this long run together because a) we got lost, b) running 9 miles alone would have been intimidating, and c) running with hubby is fun :).

The 9 mile run was intended to be 8 miles, but we tacked on an extra mile by getting ourselves lost.  The run didn’t get off to the best start.  Hubby was tired and didn’t think he’d be able to run 8 miles.  I did my best to encourage him without pushing him too hard.  I suggested we get him to at least 6 miles then he can decide if he wants to stop.  Of course, hubs is an awesome runner and a few miles in, he was feeling better and in it for the long haul.

We didn’t know where to go on our run so we started out by sticking to a road that appeared to be straight and long, as opposed to the usual tiny and windy streets throughout the city.

Our first pretty stop for a photo was the Piazza del Popolo.

That's me!

We kept running down the same street, Via del Corso, after going through the piazza.  Turns out where we were headed wasn’t a very good neighborhood, but of course, we didn’t know that.  Upon finding ourselves in an area where graffiti covered most of the buildings and sketchballs were hanging out on the streets, we decided it was best to turn around.  As we went back down Via del Corso in the other direction, we passed the street for our hotel and continued on to see the Vittoriano monument (funny sidenote: my family thought this was the Spanish steps and wanted to know why weren’t spending more time there to take pics until I explained, true story).

Il Vittoriano

And next up was the Coliseum! I was very excited to see the Coliseum because in college when I came to Rome to visit my good friend, her apartment was right next to it; plus, it’s the Coliseum and it’s super cool! I was excited to show hubby where my friend lived around the side of the Coliseum so we ran a little bit around it before turning around.

Il Colosseo!

The road the Coliseum was a little tough because it was out in the bright sun with no shade to be found.  After we turned around, we were thankful to get onto some shadier side streets.  Next, we made our way to the Spanish Steps; rather, we stumbled upon the steps as we had no idea where we were going in order to try to find them ourselves.  The nice thing about running early on a Sunday morning was that everything was very quiet and empty.  The Spanish Steps are usually packed with people, but not during our run.

The Spanish Steps

After running up and down the road where the Spanish Steps are (and getting a friendly round of bonjournos from a big running group that passed!), we headed towards the river.  Of course, we didn’t mean to go to the river, but we happened to find it.  It was a nice area to run along.

The Tiber River

Unfortunately, that’s when things went wrong.  After running by the river briefly, we tried to head back where we came from.  I asked hubby if we were going the right way and he said he didn’t know, but let’s just keep going.  Okay, then!

Instead of trying to explain where we went next, I’ll just show you the map from my Garmin.

See all those tiny little streets? Those are kind of hard to navigate

We had our iPhones with us so we tried (unsuccessfully) to find ourselves on the map.  Our phones could not accurately pinpoint our location so that was no help.  We asked multiple people for directions to the landmarks near our hotel – the Pantheon or the Piazza Navona (which we did find once, but we exited the piazza on the wrong side).  People would point in a direction and tell us to walk for 5 minuti and we’d be there.  Um, not so much.  Instead of saying how far to walk or street names, they’d tell us how many minutes to walk in a certain direction.  It was humorous and frustrating at the same time.  We finally figured out how to get back when hubs had the brilliant idea of asking an English-speaking (and very sweet!) tour guide for directions.  Then we really were back in 5 minuti!

It was an adventure, but I had a lot of fun getting to run with my husband all while exploring a new city.  The bonus was that we got to know the area very quickly by running all over and getting lost!

My next run in Roma was with my cousin.  She is a recent high school grad getting ready to go to college this Fall.  She has always been like a sister to me and I was so excited for the chance to run with her for the first time.  We only ran 3 miles and I kept it to the straight shot of running on Via del Corso and a little bit of running on another main road.  I didn’t want to be responsible for getting her lost! I kept the pace around a 10min/mile so it was comfortable for us to chat.

The miles flew by having her to chat with and we had quite a few laughs along the way.  I mentioned how the men in Paris didn’t mind staring at me while I ran.  Well, the men in Rome don’t mind stopping what they’re doing and trying to talk to you while you run.  We got a lot of bonjournos from the men.  It was quite funny.

My last run in Rome was alone.  I felt a little uncomfortable running alone as I had not seen any women running alone.  I saw a lot of runners – mostly men or groups of men and women together.  I got a lot of stares and whole lot more bonjournos.  I could have run more than 3 miles, but I kind of just wanted to get the run over with to be honest!

I ran to the river again and saw the Palazzo di Giustizia.

The Rome Hall of Justice

A beautiful view of the river

It was quite a hot and humid morning, but still beautiful as you can see from the pictures.

Next, I headed back toward the hotel (I made careful mental notes of all street names so I could find my way back this time!).  I took a quick detour to the Trevi Fountain.  I’m so glad I did because it had been insanely crowded when we saw it during the day and in the early morning, it was totally empty.

The Trevi Fountain

After that, I swung by the Pantheon one last time and again noted how nice to was to see it without a sea of people around.  Of course, right as I was taking a picture a big van got in the way.


My few observations about running in Rome:

  • As a woman, running alone was uncomfortable.  I have no problem running alone at home, but I don’t get hit on every five feet while I run in my neighborhood.
  • I didn’t see any jogging strollers here either, just like Paris.  I think people would have looked at me like a crazy person running with one.
  • Cobblestone sucks for running.  It’s uneven and you have to constantly watch your step so you don’t break your ankles.

Cobblestone - bad for your ankles

  • You must run early.  I said this about running in Paris, but it was even more important in Rome.  The sidewalks are more narrow so when they’re crowded, it’s impossible to have a good run.  The weekends are quieter so starting later is okay, but the weekdays are super busy.  It was hard for me to run at 6:15am, so I think maybe a 5:30 start would have been ideal.
  • In addition to the need to start early because of how busy it is, you also need to start early because of the heat.  It was very hot while we were in Rome and it was necessary to start running early to avoid the worst of it.
  • Remember those men I mentioned earlier that kept saying hello, don’t say hi back.  It just makes them pay more attention to you!
  • If you’re going to eat all the delicious foods that Rome has to offer like I did, be sure to keep running! I’m so glad that I kept at it.  I actually managed to lose 3lbs on this vacation.  I credit 3 things for that weight loss – wearing my 25lb toddler everywhere we went, tons of walking to sight-see and of course, running!

My reward for running - Amazingly delicious Italian pound cake for breakfast!


    • says

      Thank you! It was crazy to see them empty like that. I guess getting to the sights bright and early is the best way to see them when they’re not crowded :)

  1. says

    Beautiful pictures! Rome is one of the few places I’ve traveled to where I haven’t had a chance to run. Definitely feel like I’m missing out after reading your posts! Maybe one day!

    • says

      Hopefully you’ll get a chance to run there one day! It was a fun experience. I love your blog, especially as someone who also studied international relations in undergrad and grad school!

  2. carabiner252 says

    Sounds like fun! People in Northern Italy also stare at women runners, especially with the jogging stroller. About half the people smile and say things like “Brava!” and “cute baby!” and the other half stare and some even look like they are saying, “How dare you take that baby out in that stroller like that!” Whatever! I’m glad you got to see so many things uncrowded.

  3. says

    Great article! I’ve been living in Rome for about 9 months now, and you’re right. Running by yourself as a woman is very daunting and early mornings are the best! Next time you come to Rome (which I hope will be very soon!), check out Villa Doria. It’s a hike up the hill in the Trastevere District, and it’s a runner’s paradise. There are plenty of solo runners and many sunny paths to mix up the run!

    • says

      That’s so cool that you live in Rome! It sounds like you’ve found the insider’s way to run in the city :). I hope to be back again soon!


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