Early March mornings in Rome are still fresh (ok they’re cold) but the skies at that hour throw such glorious shades of pink and purple that it’s as if someone put some money in the slot and turned on a light show, a private one at that because you and a few other crazy runners are the only ones out there to enjoy it. When I see these skies as I run across the Vatican border into Rome, I know it was worth setting the alarm.
Rome is at its best before 8am. It’s spotless, and empty of Romans and tourists alike. With a 30 to 60 minute run around the city, you can enjoy every monument the Eternal City has to offer (including a few seconds rest break at each one to get those dream photos of you alone at the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon…)!
In addition to hitting all the famous monuments in Rome, here are some of the unlimited options for you to enjoy at this hour.
Tiber River. You can run for miles in any direction along the Tiber River, either at street level or down below next to the banks of the river. Since there are stairs or ramps at nearly every bridge, it’s also perfect for some cross-training to break up the otherwise flat run. Enjoy views of Castel Sant’Angelo and Trastevere along the way.
Vatican. It’s the perfect short hill run around Vatican walls to get a true idea of the small reality that is Vatican City. I often take the long way around to stretch the run out to 5km.
Circus Maximus. Between Rome’s Palatine and Aventine hills, is a large grassy jogging oval. It’s surreal running around the site where the ancient Romans once held horse and chariot races and early Christian martyrs were killed by lions.
Parks and Villas
Villa Pamphili. The simplest way to reach this huge park (pictured above) is from the Vatican. It’s a steady 10 minute run uphill on Via delle Fornaci. Your reward is a myriad of trail runs set amongst lush greenery and hundreds of Rome’s famous umbrella pine trees, not to mention the fountains and lakes filled with turtles and swans.
Villa Borghese. Take the steps up directly from Piazza del Popolo or follow the street from the top of the Spanish Steps. It may also be reached from Via Veneto. It’s the ideal park for city joggers to get some relief from the traffic of Rome and enjoy stunning city views.
Villa Ada. With a higher tree density than the aforementioned parks, Villa Ada on Via Salaria is worth the effort to reach. Like Villa Pamphili, it’s also highly populated by Romans and not many tourists.
Rome Fun Runs and Marathons