Running a City

My husband and I spent almost three weeks in Italy in July 2009.  It was a celebratory trip – I had just been honorably discharged as a Captain from the Army (after serving on Active Duty for 6 years) and my husband had just finished NYU’s Stern Business School.  We were both getting ready to start “life in the real world” and decided to spend some time abroad.

Italy was a no-brainer for us – my mom’s whole family is Italian (very Italian) and I had yet to visit our homeland!  Paul was stationed in Vicenza, Italy for three years during his time in the Army and wanted to return.  We spent most of our time in Rome, Florence, and Tuscany.

My husband and I are healthy eaters about 95% of the time; however, when we are on vacation, we let ourselves splurge and enjoy the local cuisine…but three weeks of pasta, wine, dried meats, cheese, and gelato is not a recipe for success!  We’ve gone on vacations before where we didn’t stay as active as we wanted and returned home feeling overweight, bloated, and unhealthy.

We knew that we wanted to remain as active as we could during our trip (and needed to because of all the food, wine, and dessert we were planning on consuming).  But we were staying in small, local hotels that did not have gyms or treadmills so we decided to combine two of our favorite things – running and sightseeing.

Our plan was to map out 5-8 mile route that included sights we wanted to see.  Each night, we would sit down with our map and pencil in the route we wanted to take the next day.  Most of the sights we selected were buildings/statues/bridges that we only needed/wanted to see once (for example – the Spanish Steps or the Circus Maximus)

Stayed active during our 3 week trip and returned home without having gained any weight
– Started each day off refreshed and happy from a great early morning run
– Visited many sites that were on the outskirts of the cities that would have been difficult or expensive to visit by foot or taxi
Ran with our camera and were able to take pictures at all the noteworthy sites
– If there was something that looked interesting, we made it a point to return to it at some point during our stay in that city
– Started our run before 7am each day and were able to avoid crowds and heat (it gets HOT in July in Italy).  It was pretty special to see some of the most famous sites in Italy without any other tourists around
– Most days we were finished with our run/sightseeing by 8 which allowed us to be showered, finished with breakfast, and ready to explore the city by 930

A few pictures from our adventure:

The beautiful Colosseum

Vatican City was empty at 7am!

...but packed by 12pm!!

We returned to the Trevi Fountain later this day to toss a coin in to return to Rome!


Safety Tips
– Run with a buddy (if possible)
– Always carry money, cell phone, and map with you at all times (tip: put money and map in ziploc bag and tuck in your shorts on your back)
– Try to stick to populated areas
– Head out after the sun comes up
– Let someone know where you will be / when you will be returning (since we were traveling alone, we would tell the front desk)
Just remember – you could be in a foreign country and are likely not familiar with your surroundings – you can NEVER be too careful or follow too many safety measures

Have you explored a city on foot?  Any helpful tips/suggestions to share with others?

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    24 thoughts on “Running a City

    1. What a great idea! I love making vacations more functional and adventurous when possible. Tuscany is on our short list… not sure what to do with the kids if we went off running…
      Axel recently posted..Running In A GroupMy Profile

    2. As always, a fantastically written post with fun, beautiful pictures and great advice for runners and travelers alike! Very jealous of your exploring Rome like that. I did Florence–much smaller, but also beautiful–all on foot. Not running persay, but just hoofing it everywhere is really the best. One of my favorites is whenever I am on a beach vacation to go running barefoot on the sand however far I can make it before my calves want to fall off. Love the post, thanks for sharing!
      Steve (@steverunner21) recently posted..Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon (Part Two)My Profile

      • Thank you!! We got to see many more sights than we would have had we just done the usual walking / driving. The best part was the empty streets – it had a surreal feeling to be walking around such historical areas with NO ONE else around!! =)

    3. My hubs and I definitely like to be active on our vacations too. We took R&R in Taveuni, Fiji and walked around the island a lot to get around the little town. They drive on the opposite side of the street, so we constantly had to look both ways when we crossed! You also get to see things from a different perspective than when you’re in a car!
      Jamie @ myrunisnotdone recently posted..Goals, Crossfit, and the LiebsterMy Profile

    4. Fantatsic post! I always try to run when I’m on vacation and it really is a great way to get in some sights and see areas that you otherwise might have missed. You definitely have to be prepared.

    5. Oh what a fun post! I’m so glad you guys got to do that — especially since your family is Italian and you had never been there. I love nothing more than to explore a city via running – especially a cool place like that!
      Ericka @ The Sweet Life recently posted..Exercise JudgmentMy Profile

    6. We toured italy last summer, it was mostly on foot – I was coming off an achilles injury, so was using the trip as resting time for my ankle. We did walk a ton though, and hardly took transit once we were in a city, plus we were either carrying or pushing my daughter, so that added to our workload. It was awesome, we also enjoyed all the local food, especially gelato!

      I think I may have just done one run – with my hubby, around the old city walls of Lucca, it was a very fun place to run, and a nice way to see the whole city from on top of the walls!

      • Maybe I should look into doing some sort of personal security for people who want to run alone at night. There might be good money in that =)
        And thank you. A tan and child-free days make you look pretty good – HAHA

    7. That sounds like a fantastic trip! I always run on vacation and some of my favorite memories from trips are those runs. My favorite to date was running in Australia. I even did a 35k bush run there–awesome!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Smelling the rosesMy Profile

    8. I love this! We were is Paris and Rome last July and it was wonderful to sightsee while running. We loved running early and seeing all the sights completely empty of tourists.

    9. I did this whilst visiting Las Vegas instead of paying $35 to use the hotel gym! The strip was great at 7am. Easy to run and no crowds, the bridges to run up if you wanted challenges and the weather was amazing!

      It was funny to see people still in their party clothes coming out of the casinos! Much better than paying $35 to run on a treadmill.

    10. My husband and I traveld for a few weeks in Europe while we were in the midst of training for a marathon and long runs were one of the best ways to see the cities! Early in the morning, uncrowded, gorgeous light. We ran through Krakow, Warsaw, Vienna, Venice, and Florence. Some of our most memorable runs. I was able to to plot out a lot of good running routes online by googling “Vienna running” or something like that. This was about 10 years ago so I’m sure that the resources online are better now. Clued me into safe and unsafe places to run and got to check out some more “local” routes too.
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Scenes From My Weekend – WilliamsburgMy Profile

    11. Love this. The one city we explored on foot was Kyoto Japan and it was amazing. I wasn’t a runner but we hiked. Now that I run I want to go more places. It’s funny that down to my core I just want to run and explore, with the dream of pushing a toddler that is happy as a clam and running next to a hubby who is the same pace. LOL… a mommy can dream right!?
      Amanda@HappyMotherRunner recently posted..Week 12 PROOF RecapMy Profile