Bologna and Florence
It wasn't especially interesting at first, until we reached the first of what would be many of the old gates into the city. Some were more elaborate than others, depending on their era and how much they had been renovated. They were all red brick with arches. There were a few stretches of the walls left and even a bit of moat. We occasionally got views towards the hills around Bologna, some of which had churches on top.
The roads we ran along varied between passing large buildings in good condition to some fairly derelict parts beyond the railway station. The last parts were more residential, and then there was the largish Giardini Margarita park. I went inside this park but kept parallel to the intended route.
On our second day we walked up to the basilica of San Luca, along the 666 porticoes beyond the Porta Saragossa. It didn't seem worth the effort to run there, with so many steps, and the idea of that trip is to walk through he world's longest series of porticoes.
On the next two days I worked out a route that would cut out the really dilapidated and uninteresting part of the route around the walls, and meant I could allow myself a lap of the Giardini Margarita park while still staying at around 10 kilometres. After a few kilometres outside the wall I cut across town on a long straight street. This was much nicer, lots of porticoes, a roundabout with a fountain to go around, passing the piazza and park near Via Indipendenza, and brought me out by one of the better renovated gates in the wall.
Then I headed up to the park. There were plenty of runners there, mainly making a circuit of the park on the road. The road seemed a bit too slippery for my liking. But I spotted a dirt track on the grass at the perimeter of the park so I ran on that, under the trees. It was great and I couldn't see why nobody else was using it.
And I went back for the same thing the next day.
Florence, January 6
Florence was so busy with people it was hard to imagine finding anywhere peaceful to run. Lots of people, narrow streets and delivery vans that show no mercy didn't add up to a pleasant running scenario.
But I found a good place to go, following the Arno river on its northern bank to the Cascine park, running to the tip of the park and crossing the river, then returning on the southern bank for a trip of about 11 kilometres. The path through the park looked like it continues well beyond, going on for miles but the scenery might not have been all that special.
The section of road along the Arno by our hotel was very quiet so nice to run along, passing a couple of bridges (one of which seems like it is only used as a cark park) and a huge
long weir set at an angle across the river. I stayed by the river once I got into the park. The park was quiet with just a few runners and walkers and there wasn't actually much to see on either side of the river. Another time it might be nice to run through the centre of the park. There were some more formally laid out areas and avenues of trees.
At the tip of the park was an abandoned building and a bridge crossing a tributary of the Arno, then a two level bridge across the Arno. Once across the river I was in a sort of wasteland, rather surprising for the world class city of Florence. But the gravel path was nice for running and well away from the road. There were a couple of tricky places where I had to go to the road and I had to run around a large traffic circle, and then run along a narrow road and negotiate an old city gate where there was no footpath. There were also walking tracks right down at the river's edge but that part of the river bank had plenty of rubbish lying around and did not look inviting.
I could see the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio for most of the way back and also the Duomo, and once I got closer to town the palazzo type buildings on the north bank were more interesting to look at than those on the south bank. But the road wasn't closed to traffic on the south bank so the running was more tricky with lots of walkers and a very narrow footpath. It was a clear day so I could also see the mountains on the horizon.