My top three Italy runs

 While in Montecatini Terme and traveling to other parts of Italy I was able to run in some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 


My family and I were in Italy for a study abroad trip with the university I work for. From January to April we visited numerous sites in Italy as well as other parts of Europe and the Middle East. While in Italy we stayed in Montecatini Terme. Most of my runs were in and around that area. While in Montecatini Terme and traveling to other parts of Italy I was able to run in some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Firenze, Roma, Napoli, Elba and even an impromptu sprint through Venezia. I very much enjoyed the Parkrun Italia in the Parco Delle Terme while in Montecatini. Especially the dolce afterward. Even though I did not speak much Italian and they didn't speak much English, it was a great experience. There is so much more to say that it would take many pages to share all of it, so I'll just share my top three runs and encourage you all to keep running Italy. I hope to return some day for a few more miles.

My top three Italy runs:

3. My number three was bitter-sweet, as it was my last run in Italy. It was our last week there and my family wanted to go to the market in Lucca. I left early in the morning before my family and ran the city walls and then north of the city along the Fiume Serchio. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful run. I did seven miles all together. Beginning at the train station I ran straight to the old city walls. After a full lap I went north on the Borgo Giannotti crossed the Serchio and ran along a gravel road to a pedestrian bridge which crossed the river and went along the south side of the Serchio and back to the old city. It was a perfect run to end the trip.

2. Number two would have to be my 10-miler in Roma. Our hotel was located about two blocks from the main train station which was a great starting point. I don't remember the streets, but I wanted to run through several of the parks there. I ran by Sapienza University and through Parco del Colle Oppio, the Colosseum, Parco Ninfeo di Nerone, Parco Egerio, Parco di Porta, Parco della Resistenza and then along the river trail on the Tevere. From the Ponte Cavour I made my way back to the hotel on Palestro. I had not run that far while in Italy and it was a good warm-up for my number one run.

1. For my number one, I participated in the "Miniera in Trail" run in Rio Marina on Elba. It was the sixth annual event and I ran the 23 kilometer route. As far as I can tell, I was the only American to run the event. This is the best running experience of my life to date. The island it beautiful, the people were all very accommodating and the whole experience was a blessing to my family. The night before we had a wonderful meal at Approdo dell'Elba. The owners welcomed us, late as it was and fixed us a great meal. One of the best meals we had in Italy. The run is through the old mining trails and the hills above Rio Marina. The course was challenging to me since I had never run that distance or on trails more than a mile or two. The views from the hills and the serenest of the forested areas combined with the history of the mines made it a memorable experience all around. The pasta and vino afterward were superb. A big thank you to Luigi, the president of the trail run for translating everything to me and making sure I had all the information I needed.

Heath Willingham

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