If you’re seeking an exercise routine with some structure as well as a way of meeting locals and internationals, Runners of Florence ticks both boxes. The open community meets every Tuesday for an eight-kilometre run around the centre, followed by a social event. We talk to organizer Chiara Cecconi about how Runners of Florence began, the joint aims of sport and community building, and how to get involved.
Where did the idea for Runners of Florence come from?
I started running with a friend of mine when I was 20. We wanted to challenge ourselves in doing something together, like a sport. Then at one point, I moved to Rome for my master’s studies and I felt totally alone there. I didn’t know anyone and I wanted to run as well as meet new people and make new connections. I was looking for a running group and I found a crew in Rome. I had the chance with them, not only to keep running, but I began to discover the city in a unique way. I truly felt like I was part of something special.
Who is Runners of Florence for?
I had the idea to create it not only for residents, but also for visitors, people who are coming here just for one month, for a year, 10 years. I want them to experience the joy of running together and help them not to feel alone in our city, and also to connect with the culture. I want them to feel truly Florentine. That is how Runners of Florence was born! I’m aware that it’s not always easy for foreigners to live here, so our vision is more about connecting people, fostering friendships, and also building strong, long-standing memories while running together. There’s someone new every time and last time there were 30 of us.
How does it work?
Every Tuesday around 7.30pm, we meet and start running around the centre. We enjoy the experience by ending each run with a shared moment over a refreshing beer and a laugh. This month, we will start collaborating with the YellowSquare hostel in viale Redi to use it as our meeting point. They will organize some karaoke as well as a language exchange, games night, yoga sessions and other fun after-run activities during the year. From October, we will organize different speed groups, so everybody can run according to their own ability. I don’t want to push someone too much. It’s about having fun, but also training, because it is around eight kilometres. It’s more or less 45 minutes of running.
What makes Runners of Florence special?
This year, we have worked with the music collective Bioritmo. They usually organize the events around the centre in different locations. It’s good fun to run to the sound of the music, which is at the same BPM as our running pace. With them, we try to connect the energy of running and the magic of the music. We enjoy running and people around us enjoy it too because they start clapping their hands and dancing when we arrive, so the atmosphere is very special.
What’s your aim?
The goal is to make people know the city better, to bring them closer to activities in Florence and its soul because every single one of us is aware of where we live. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and most of the time tourists are staying in the most touristic places, where they cannot really feel the real local Florence. That’s why we’re connecting residents with people who are staying in Florence just for shorter periods of time. I would like everyone to know that they have a place to call home within our running community.
How can I get involved?
We have an Instagram profile and we provide all the details there. In October, people will be able to sign up on the link. Just sign up and come along. It is open to everyone and it’s totally free. You can even sign up five minutes before the run.