I have never enjoyed running as much as I enjoy running in Rome.
What makes running in Rome so great?
- Running around Rome’s parks—Villa Borghese, Villa Pamphilj, Villa Torlonia, etc.
- Running past statues and ruins
- The mild climate and, often, the dry air
- The buzz of the city around you as you jog
- Running as a scenic way to reach a destination
- Running in 5k, 10k, marathon, or official “fun run” and enjoying new perspectives of the sights from the car-free streets
And there is so much more.
I prefer running in Rome in the mornings—the sunlight hovering on the horizon as I run under the still-lit streetlights, peeking into bars that have yet to open and passing by outdoor markets in the process of being set up. Summer or winter, you can sense a cool air of possibility in the day and revel in the quiet.
As the sun starts to rise, and the twinkle of the moon and stars starts to fade, I like to listen to Jovanotti’s Baciami Ancora. It happened once and felt so magical, it became a ritual.
Lunchtime Runs in Rome
On perfect, low humidity, blue sky days—of which there are many in Rome—I like to run during my lunch hour, taking in the sights and sounds of the Centro Storico. There’s something very fun about running past diners enjoying their plates of pasta, past tourists posing for selfies, past boutiques buzzing with soundtracks and sales. You can take stock of what looks good to eat and what stores have for sale. Look down and see the cobblestones beneath your feet, look up and around to notice new details on buildings and landmarks. What’s more, the historic center is mostly car-free. Nowhere in the world does scenic jogging like Rome does scenic jogging, and it’s a fun way to exercise without feeling like you’re exercising.
Running at Dusk
Another great time to run is at dusk. This is the time when the parks on Rome’s hills fill up with those hoping to catch a glimpse of the pink-orange sun easing down below the rooftops. This also usually means that the tourists are wrapping their days up at the monuments and heading back to their hotels or for an aperitivo somewhere. Many of Rome’s avid runners, including those in its running clubs, choose to run at this hour of the day or slightly later. In pre-pandemic times, dusk running in Rome made the most sense because that’s when the city was emptier—an invigorating way to cap off a long workday.
Italy’s Best Cities for Running
I have my preferences. But honestly, it doesn’t matter what time of day you run in Rome—or whether it’s on a weekday or a weekend—it’s always enjoyable. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Rome recently ranked number one on a list of best running cities in Italy.
The 18 cities on the list below are taken from a list of 76 cities in Europe that PUMA analyzed for its running survey.
Apparently, London came in first among European cities, followed by Dublin and Paris. I’m sorry, but there is no way in hell these cities could have beaten Rome as the best running cities. Notice that there is no measurement for the average number of rainy days. There is also a green index but no other color index (*wink*). I’ll take Rome’s blues and ochres over the other cities’ greys any day.
Puma Europe’s running study seems statistically flimsy. And it seems weird to me that their UK PR team sent me this incomplete survey in the hopes of me helping them sell Puma products when all they needed to do was highlight the fact that Puma has sponsored Italy’s National Football Team kits since 2003. (Though that’s set to change to Adidas in 2023.) I guess it’s still hard for some in the UK to admit that Italy won Euro Cup.
Anyhow, I am thrilled that this little bit of PR outreach jogged my memory about running in Rome. I’ve been meaning to write about the joys of running in Rome for quite some time. And now I finally have.
PUMA Europe’s independent data collection partner has analysed a number of different variables across 76 different cities in a bid to identify the best European city for runners. All views expressed are not those of PUMA Europe.