I love running when I travel. I do not love, however, the constant fear of death that comes from running in Italy.
Italians, it seems, are never in a hurry until they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.Whether it is a scooter, motorbike, or automobile, their drivers seem to be set out to accomplish one thing; rack up as many pedestrian fatalities as possible.
Knowing the driving culture of a country can save your life. In Rome, traffic signs are merely a recommendation as opposed to a law. If you make eye contact with a driver as a runner in Rome, you just began a game of chicken. Do you dare to walk across the street or does he dare to keep going?
How to Run in Rome
Be careful crossing the street.
They will not stop 90% of the time. Italians drive around Rome as though they are behind the wheel of a Ferrari. With that motivation, any vehicle would do significant body damage to any runner.
There is strength in numbers.
Whenever possible, run with a companion. Make a friend and get to know each other on a jog through the city. While this may not always be possible, at least you both have another person looking out for you.
Stalk a tour group or large group of people.
This is really the most effective way to cross any street. It is hard for any driver to run over an entire cluster of folks.
Pre-planning a running route is highly advised.
Any building can begin looking familiar if you are new to a city. Streets can sometimes take you in a circle that never lead back to your humble abode. Research your route beforehand and if possible, map your route in a Garmin. At least if you get lost, your Garmin can take you home. The less there is to worry about, the more attention you can pay to the chaotic madness around you.
Running in Rome really becomes more of an obstacle course than an actual exploration. If you must run in Rome, like me, take the proper precautions to assure your safety!