This article is part of a new guide to Rome from FT Globetrotter
Rome is probably one of the best Italian cities for running. It has it all: lots of green space, a long river with paths along its banks and stunning views from pretty much every angle. From almost any point, you can put on your sneakers and escape the bustle of the centre, encountering timeless landmarks along the way, from St Peter’s imposing dome — or cupolone — to the ancient Roman city walls or aqueducts that have stood witness to the passage of time.
These are all roughly 5k routes, but you could run on for a longer workout, or customise — for example, turning back halfway on the Tiber path for a looped run instead. The good thing about Rome is that you can run all year round — just put a jacket on between December and February, and in August make sure to get out early in the morning (ideally around 7am) to avoid the searing summer heat. And running is probably the safest way to exercise right now, when social distancing and fresh air are paramount.
Pinciano district, 00197 Rome
Good for: stunning views of central Rome
Not so good for: lots of tourists, especially in the area near Piazza del Popolo, where the best city views are
FYI: in Rome, the word ‘villa’ is used as a synonym for park — many public parks used to be the grounds of private residences. Villa Borghese is always open and it is big enough for all runners, but if you want to avoid tourists, it could be better to go before 10am
This park is often called “il cuore di Roma” — the heart of Rome — as it’s right at the centre of the city and is vaguely heart-shaped. Villa Borghese has a range of running terrains from trails to roads and even a proper running track. It is also easily accessible from every side depending on where you are based.
I normally run into the park from Via Pietro Raimondi, which is only 1km from my house, but you can also access the park crossing Porta Pinciana from Via Veneto, or from Piazza del Popolo and Piazzale Flaminio if you are close to the river. The view from Terrazza del Pincio, a terrace overlooking the city, is incredible. If you start from the entrance by Porta Pinciana, you can run towards the Borghese Gallery and Museum inside the park, pass the Temple of Asclepius and finish at Terrazza del Pincio. Do this circuit three times for a 5k run.
Via Salaria, 00199 Rome
Good for: advanced runners
Not so good for: beginners, anyone who suffers from allergies in spring
FYI: there is an outdoor gym by the lake and Roman ruins. A riding school offers lessons. Opening hours: 7am till sunset
Situated in the north of the city between the Parioli and Trieste neighbourhoods, this 160-hectare park is one of the biggest in Rome and probably the best option for more experienced runners. It’s a little wilder than other parks, with its canopy of umbrella pines, unpaved paths and hilly areas. For a 5k route, start at the entrance on Via Salaria, nearest the Egyptian embassy, head along Viale Jean Monnet, run around the little house at the end and then along Viale Hans and Sophie Scholl. Take the first stairs on the right and go down to Viale Don Luigi di Liegro, then run towards the main lake with its central island, and back via the smaller lake — taking a break to admire the turtles.
Via Nomentana 70, 00161 Rome
Good for: easy runs/beginners
Not so good for: crowds
FYI: this villa used to be one of Benito Mussolini’s residences — he famously rented it from the Torlonia family, the original owners, for one lira a year. Opening hours: 7am — 8pm
One of the most refined public parks in Rome, Villa Torlonia feels more like a formal garden. It is quite small but well worth a jog: most runners start their run at the main entrance on Via Nomentana and do a circular loop or two on the main gravel path (three times roughly equals 5k). Statues and monuments, including two huge obelisks, flank the symmetrical avenues around the villa (now a museum), which is itself is surrounded by small lakes, exotic plants and follies including La Casina delle Civette (The House of the Owls), a tower, a Moorish grotto and a tournament field. Extensive Jewish catacombs were discovered here in 1919.
riverside paths running alongside the Tiber
Good for: views of Tiber Island, St Peter’s Cathedral, Trastevere, Testaccio
Not so good for: occasional mud
FYI: you can start your run pretty much anywhere, depending on where you are based
For me, running along the Tiber is one of the best ways to experience the city — the air is better, and being next to water has always given me a sense of freedom. The Lungotevere offer a visual architectural feast, with views of St Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo, the boat-shaped Tiber Island — once home to a temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, today to a hospital and the Basilica of St Bartholomew — as well as countless late-Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic buildings overlooking the river.
You can start your run pretty much anywhere, depending on where you are based — there are stairs descending to the river path at several points, normally close to bridges, or you can just run at road level (be careful at crossroads). For a taste of the Lungotevere, you could start at Lungotevere Testaccio, towards the Sublicio Bridge, cross it and keep running along the river, with the Trastevere neighbourhood on the left and Tiber island on the right. Continue until you see St Peter’s Basilica on the left and Castel Sant’Angelo on the right. For a 5k run, at Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II loop back to where you started. It is generally safe to run here at all times — just mind the cars when you cross the bridges.
Parco degli Acquedotti
Via Lemonia, 00174 Rome
Good for: ancient ruins
Not so good for: No trees for most of the trail — bring a hat
FYI: not the most central trail. Metro stops: Lucio Sestio and Giulio Agricola, line A. Open all hours.
You can run (and cycle) among the impressive ruins of ancient Roman aqueducts and the Renaissance Acqua Felice in this park in the south-east of Rome, which is part of the Appian Way Regional Park. The non-tarmac path that loops around the park is totally flat and the lack of trees gives you the opportunity to admire the unique landscape. Over the years, one can get used to the beauty of Rome, but this place never stops to amaze. This run is quite straightforward. For a 5.9k run, start at Via Lemonia 221 and run clockwise, following the path.
Rome with the FT
In a series of articles this week, FT Globetrotter is launching a new guide to Rome, celebrating the joys of city life — and offering some much-needed escapism — with expert advice on eating and drinking, exercise, culture, navigating the new normal, and more.
Sat: La dolce Vespa: the delights of discovering Rome by scooter
Sun: Why locals are finally dining out in Rome’s most famous square
Maps by Liz Faunce
We're looking for your best tips about the Italian capital. Tell us your favourite places to visit, eat, drink, exercise, sightsee, and more
Get alerts on Fitness in Rome when a new story is published