I enjoy running especially outdoors. Not only is it great exercise but it’s one of my favorite ways to reset and clear my head. Since wellness and self-care are important to me, I run when I’m home and I continue the tradition when I travel. Yet, I only recently discovered that there is a term for what I do. Running in Rome or “sight jogging” is a combination of running and sightseeing – who figured!
Killing two birds with one stone, running in Rome kept me in shape as I discovered panoramic viewpoints and iconic landmarks perfect for watching the sunrise. Waking up early meant that I avoided the crowds. This allowed me to get off the beaten path for a bit and check out different parts of the city which I might not have seen otherwise. After each run, I felt energized and ready to learn more about Rome’s rich history and culture through a variety of guided tours, classes and day trips offered by Bookmundi.
If you’re considering running in Rome, I have three recommendations! And if you need help crafting your perfect trip with plenty of sightseeing, this 5-day Rome itinerary is perfect for the first time visitor.
Running In Rome: Sightseeing Routes
Via Appia Antica – Running Through Ancient Rome
My Run Total: 6.75 miles or 10.86 kilometers
Via Appia Antica (Appian Way or Old Appian Way) was one the first running routes that I discovered in Rome. On Sundays, the road is closed to traffic. Since I started my run at my hostel in the city center, I only covered a small section of the road. However, you can cover more ground by biking – check out the pros and cons to see more.
Via Appia Antica is the perfect mix of history and beauty. Dating back to 312 B.C., this well-preserved route is a great place to retrace the footsteps of the ancient Romans. It’s the earliest road that led to the ancient city of Rome. To put this into perspective, it predates the Colosseum. Used to transport military supplies, this road was critical in sending Roman troops to southeast Italy. It is now an archaeological park with attractions such as churches, villas, and Roman baths.
Via Appia Antica has the original slabs of stone from the ancient city of Rome. Along the straight cobblestone route, you’ll find the Catacombs of San Callisto, the final resting place of more than 16 popes and 50 martyrs. In ancient Roman times, the dead were not allowed to be buried inside the city walls.
Villa Borghese – Running Through Greenery
My Run Total: 4.16 miles or 6.69 kilometers
Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome. Once a vineyard and private park for aristocrats, the Villa is now a charming public park. On a hillside overlooking Rome, this multilevel oasis offers expansive views of Rome’s gorgeous skyline as well as museums, lakes and even a zoo.
From my apartment, I ran to the Piazza del Popolo or the “People’s Square”, a grand square which houses Rome’s oldest Egyptian obelisk. Next, I worked my way up the paved Viale Gabriele D’Annunzio, a steep tree-covered hill. Along the way, I stopped to admire the colorful rooftop gardens and counted as many as nine church domes. I also spotted all sorts of church spires and bell towers.
Next, I climbed a short flight of steps leading to the Terrazza del Pincio, a large viewpoint which overlooks the Piazza del Popolo. This balcony is a great place to take panoramic photos of the city.
Since there were only a handful of early risers enjoying the view, I sat on the ledge (be careful it’s slippery) and enjoyed the park’s peaceful ambiance. There’s something special about seeing Rome come to life.
After checking out the viewpoint, I walked down a scenic statue-lined path. The statues depicted prominent historical figures and the stone pine trees created a beautiful canopy overhead. For those who want to have a seat, there are wooden benches scattered throughout the park. To the right, the sculptures, water fountains and 1867 water-clock added to the dreamy scenery.
Although I didn’t get to explore Villa Borghese in its entirety, this is my favorite scenic running route in Rome so far. My only wish is that I’ll get to return to Rome to see the sunrise or sunset here.
Vatican City – Meeting the Pope
My Run Total: 3.20 miles or 5.14 kilometers
Since my apartment was close to the Vatican, I concluded my trip to Rome with a morning run to Saint Peter’s Square before heading to the airport.
I ran through my local neighborhood and covered most of the Vatican’s two-mile border. Standing at 39-feet, the Vatican walls are slanted at an angle instead of vertical. Completed in 832 A.D., the walls protected the pope and clergy from invasions.
I also ran along the banks of the glistening Tiber River and stopped in front of the Saint Angelo Castle where I strolled to the Saint Angelo Bridge. The bridge has ten angel sculptures each holding one of the things critical to Jesus Christ’s death like nails, a whip, and cross. Pressed for time, I didn’t have a chance to take the stairs to go down to the river.
Since I already visited this area during sunset, that morning I enjoyed ditching the crowds and street vendors.
At 7a.m. I counted less than ten people in line to visit the Vatican. But on my way back there were lots more. This means that if you plan to visit the Vatican, expect long lines. The Vatican museum opens at 9 a.m.
These three routes prove that in an hour, you can cover a lot of ground running in Rome. I can’t wait to continue discovering more running routes next time I visit.
Do YOU enjoy running while traveling? Tell me about it!
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.