Run around the Renaissance

Two jogging itineraries far from the tourist trail

Rosie Scammell
December 13, 2012

In the second of this two-part series, Rosie Scammell explores running routes around Florence. She offers routes up to the town of Fiesole, through Florence's vast park, the Cascine, and neighbourhoods far from the tourist trail. These are strategic itineraries to keep off the holiday and winter pounds, when abundant meals threaten even the fittest and slimmest.

 

7km/14km

Florence to Fiesole

 

This route traces the journey to Fiesole made infamous in E.M. Forster's A Room with a View. While his characters travelled by horse-drawn carriage and ended up kissing in a field, you will run to the hilltop town and do what you will.

 

Begin by heading west. From the west side of the Duomo, take via Ricasoli. Run past the ever-present queue outside the Accademia and through piazza San Marco (mind the bus fumes). The street becomes via Giorgio la Pira and on your right you will pass the palm trees and gardens of Florence's Museum of Natural History.

 

Continue onward and across viale Giacomo Matteotti, marking the outer limit of the historic city, into wider residential streets. Directly ahead, take quiet via Frà Bartolomeo, turning left on the fifth turn (look for the huge Esselunga sign on via Masaccio). Pass the supermarket, and at the junction turn right and down into the underpass, which is perhaps the best place to see contemporary art in Florence. Slow your pace to view the graffiti, a permanently changing exhibition, taking the left path and coming out into piazza delle Cure.

 

If it is any morning other than Sunday, you'll be caught in the bustle of the neighbourhood market. Pass through and head for via Franco Sacchetti, next to the pharmacy on the square. At the end, turn right and follow the local shops along the side of the Torrente Mugnone, beginning the gradual climb.

 

Via Giovanni Boccaccio-an indication that the author's famous Decameron was set nearby-narrows at the end, turning slightly away from the small river and into Tuscan countryside. The street ambles uphill past an olive grove and increasingly large villas, before opening out onto San Domenico di Fiesole. Here you will find an often-open bar on the corner if you need a drink before continuing through the hamlet and upwards along via Giuseppe Mantellini.

 

Be cautious of cars at the corners: this street may be busier than some in the area but has been chosen because it offers encouraging views over Florence as you climb. You will turn almost back on yourself as the street joins via Frà Giovanni da Fièsole detto l'Angelico. You will be thankful that the street itself is not as long as its name: within minutes you will find yourself resting at piazza Mino in Fiesole.

 

The official scenic viewpoint is alas further still, just off the square, but weary folk can take the ATAF 7 bus down the hill to piazza San Marco. The bus route has been marked on the map and can be followed by eager runners keen for another 7km.

 

 

21km

The full tour

 

This route can be roughly cut into three parts for shorter distances, divided by the Cascine Park, the Arno and Campo di Marte. For those keen for the full course, start by heading east on the southern side of piazza del Duomo, along via dei Pecori. Turn left at the end, past a plethora of designer shops and down the wider via dei Rondinelli, before seeing Palazzo Strozzi to your left. At this point, take the second of the right turns, via della Vigna Nuova, which will bring you in view of the Arno.

 

Run along the water, past the suspicious eyes outside the U.S. Consulate, and when the line of grand buildings ends, cut across the grass and over the ring road along the cycle path. You find yourself at the entrance to the Cascine Park, a sea of green that, if overlaid on the historic centre, would surely engulf the city. The park includes a swimming pool, two hippodromes and countless paths, but for this run, a simple loop will do.

 

Stay on the Arno side. Running the length of the park you will be joined by fellow runners, cyclists and, on a Sunday, Italians out for a stroll. You will jog across a tramline and past piazzale delle Cascine before reaching the end, where there is a welcome drinking fountain.

 

After a moment's respite, follow the path round as it curves back towards Florence, passing the two hippodromes on your left, or take to the trees and run along the smaller paths westward. After the 7km park circular, cross the river and run the length of the city on the south bank. You will pass two of the city's best gelaterie, the Ponte Vecchio and Porta San Niccolò, before crossing back over on the seventh bridge you come to. For those who lose count, it is Ponte Giovanni da Verrazzano and appears after 4km.

 

You will now enter a more urban scene, straight over the bridge and ahead onto via Francesco de Sanctis. Continue past the apartment blocks, and as the street opens out, swing left instead, onto via Lorenzo di Credi and towards the high road and train tracks.

 

On the other side, continue along via lungo l'Affrico. It is a busy street and so not the most pleasant in Tuscany, but after less than a kilometre you'll be turning left onto viale Enrico Cialdini and towards the home of ACF Fiorentina: the Artemio Franchi Stadium.

 

Take a right onto viale Manfredo Fanti and complete the ritual lap of the stadium grounds with the other runners before coming to your start point and cutting through the grounds on viale Paoli, passing the swimming pool to your left.

 

With just 3km left, run straight towards delightful piazza delle Cure-full of local shops and Florentines-and turn left under the colourful underpass, picking the left hand side exit onto viale Don Giovanni Minzoni. Go straight on and veer left at the chaotic piazza della Libertà, jogging for a moment down viale Giacomo Matteotti before making a safe crossing at the first opportunity.

After more than 20km you now have little left to do but run, jog or walk down via Lamarmora, past landscaped gardens and back into Renaissance Florence, arriving at the Duomo half a marathon later.

 

To view maps of these jogging routes, visit http://bit.ly/WNB7aY (21km) and http://bit.ly/YfN2Ps (7km/14km). Additional routes of 3km and 5km can be found online at: http://bit.ly/UtjOYt .

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