Flowing in Florence
After spending two weeks in Venice without vehicle traffic, our arrival in Florence was discombobulating, to say the least. I was apprehensive about running the next day, as buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters and people were everywhere as Jackie and I walked around the neighborhood near our Airbnb.
Fortunately, the Park of Villa Strozzi al Boschetto (a large public park) was around the corner, so I decided to ease back into big-city running with an off-street jaunt.
1st run – Villa Strozzi al Boschetto
2.24 miles 10:44 pace
I got an early morning start along with a few locals walking their dogs, and entered the wide trail leading into the park. What looked like an easy run on my map (silly two-dimensional views) turned out to be a series of hills that I was woefully unprepared for after running at sea level.
As I trudged to the highest point in the park, I saw many smaller trails leading in several directions. I later told Jackie I could run there daily and never take the same route. Those words turned out to be prophetic.
2nd run – Arno River
3.08 miles 9:49 pace
I put on my big boy pants (well, running shorts) and headed toward the Arno River, near the city center of Florence. I walked to the river because it was nerve wracking with so many vehicles whipping by me on the narrow street leading to the river (the sidewalks seemed to be afterthoughts).
Running along the river was enjoyable, even with the commuters and tourists strewn about. At one point, I ran near what I mistakenly thought was the American Embassy. Turns out it was the American Consulate. (Embassies are only in a country’s capital). Here’s the thing with consulates, they don’t appreciate people taking pictures or videos of the building. I thought it would add a great deal to my blog, but the armed guards disagreed.
3rd run – Lucca
2 miles 8:58 pace
Jackie and I decided to hop on the train and spend the day in Lucca, after our friends, the Santina’s, stayed there and suggested we visit the city before leaving Tuscany.
We walked to a cafe, where Jackie set up to work, and I headed back to the wall we crossed under on the way into the city (Lucca is the only fully-walled city in Italy). It was an ideal place to run with a smooth, paved trail along the top of the wall. I initially planned to run a full lap around the city, but I got tired (and hungry) and stopped after two miles. Check out the video I took during the run, especially if you want to hear a guy in his mid-50’s breathing hard.
4th run – Staying Close to Home
3.05 miles 9:50 pace
I planned to run through the park again, but it wasn’t due to open for another 30 minutes. Instead, I headed toward the tram line and ran an out-and-back along Viale Francesco Talenti, one of the main arteries leading in and out of the center of Florence. The sidewalks were wide and even, (most of the way) and I was able to focus on my form more than I had previously.
The bonus of the run was discovering a gelateria near our Airbnb, which Jackie and I returned to later the same day. 😋
5th run – Back in the park
5 miles 10:11 pace
This is the prophetic part for those keeping score at home. My plan to run through Villa Strozzi al Boschetto got off to a fantastic start. I was feeling good on this clear sunny day until curiosity about one trail leading out of the park got the best of me. Who can resist a gentle down-hill? The trail led out of the park boundaries to a wide street with an arrow towards Siena. My intuition was to turn around and return to the park, but my desire to see new sights won the internal argument.
I got caught up in the run and taking pictures, all the time thinking I was about a mile from home. After I hit four miles, I was ready to walk back for my cool-down. Unfortunately, my sense of direction was way off, and there were more than two miles between me and home (most of it uphill😬). I ran/walked another mile before reaching a brutal uphill that ended the running portion of my day. Believe me, I was good with five miles.
Next up, Rome!