Rome in mid summer. Think heat. Think crowds. Think stress. Whether travelling solo or in a tour, all roads (and tourists) lead to Rome, particularly it’s historic attractions. There is however a way to appreciate the sights of Rome in mid-summer avoiding the crowds, heat and hustle. Leaving you to sip a macchiato in a sidewalk cafe while the rest of the crowds bustle by. Lace up your jogging shoes, this is the Sling Adventures Running Tour of Rome.
Distance: 8.8km (45min run | 1.5 hours walk) – Route map
Start/Finish: Spanish Steps
Limber up on the stairs at Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). 7am is the latest you want to start. Both to avoid the heat and the swelling crowds. In fact, you can start at any of the sights mentioned here and travel in any direction based on where you are staying. For the record though I completed this starting and ending at the Spanish Steps and moving counter-clockwise through the sights in order as follows.
Piazza del Popolo
Heading north from Piazza di Spagna along via del Babuino. Just past an easy 500m you arrive at Piazza del Popolo known as ‘Plaza of the people’ or the ‘poplars’ depending on who you believe. It was once the first building sighted arriving into Rome before the railroads were built. So it is apt that this is the first building of note on this Rome running route!
St Peters Basilica
Turning left (west) from Piazza del Popolo you will cross the River Tiber. Follow the river around to St Peter’s Basilica or simply continue along via Cola di Rienzo till you reach the walls of the Vatican. St Peter’s Basilica is an impressive sight, no matter what faith you follow. Particularly impressive is the spacious Piazza San Pietro without all the crowds. In fact, if you step inside this Piazza you will officially be in the hallowed land of the Vatican. Not bad, ticking off a new country only a few kilometres into the run!
Back out into Italy head south-east immediately crossing back over the Tiber River on the Ponte Principe Amedeo Savoia Aosta bridge. Again you can follow the river if you wish, which is slightly longer yet more scenic. If you take this route turn left when you reach via Arenula. Otherwise the more direct route is along the main Corso Vitorrio Emanual II until you arrive at Piazza Venezia. While a major transport hub of Rome, the surrounding buildings are impressive. Of most note is the Equestrian Statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the namesake of the road you have just run along. Viewing this statue with the Roman columns in the background in the morning light, void of tourists, is worth stopping to catch your breath in front of.
Continuing, head left of the Equestrian Statue along via del Fiori Imperiali. You will have a constant view of the Roman Forum relics to your right as you jog along the super wide footpath towards the Colosseum. Home to Gladiators of years past you can imagine heading towards this impressive but crumbling stadium when it was in it’s infamous hey day. Take a short break on the grassy field just as the first tour buses of the day begin to show up.
This most famous fountain in the world is barely looked at before 8am. You can walk around every aspect of this bubbling mass of marble and inspect the exquisite baroque architecture should you so wish. Merely an hour later than this you will need to elbow through hordes of shouting tour groups to throw in that Euro for good luck. So take a moment and enjoy it for yourself and most likely by yourself with the exception of the odd street cleaner.
Piazza di Spagna
The final stop brings you back to where you started, the Spanish Steps. If you have some energy left you can run to the top to get a good view over the city including some of the sights you have just seen. St Peter’s should be directly in front of you looking back down in the direction of the stairs. Or just enjoy the view from the bottom!
So that’s it. A very doable, flat scenic run through central Rome taking in the sights and sounds of the city before it’s many visitors wake up for the day. Of course you’ll likely want a closer look at the inside of these archaeological delights. At least you can now appreciate the view in your own time at your own pace. Plus your morning pastry and coffee will taste a little better following the early morning exertions.
Rome Running Route
This shows the most direct route between the sights but you can take a more scenic route following the river if you wish. Click the map to access the Google Maps directions. Send these to your phone so you don’t get lost and your phone can capture some similar pics I hope you enjoyed in this article (taken with iPhone 5).