by Melinda Gallo

Corri la Vita

The last thing I thought I would be doing was running alone in the Corri la Vita walkathon/marathon. Alessandro and I had signed up a few days ago, but after our long run yesterday we decided not to go. I woke up early today and put on my running gear including the race's maglietta (T-shirt), donated by Salvatore Ferragamo, and walked to Piazza Santa Croce. I wanted to go so that I could pick up the pacchi gara (competitor's gift packages), exchange Alessandro's maglietta for a larger one, and take some pictures of the event because I had never participated before.

Living in Florence :: Corri la Vita

I was in Piazza Santa Croce by 8 am, an hour and a half before the start of the corsa (race). I handed in my two buoni (coupons) to get our pacchi gara. I didn't know that they'd be so cumbersome, so I had to walk back home to drop them off at our apartment. I jogged back to the piazza with a borsa a tracollo (shoulder bag) containing my macchina fotografica (camera).

I found myself standing in the front row in front of the palcoscenico (stage) because I had heard that Cesare Prandelli, the allenatore (coach) of the Fiorentina would speak before the corsa, and I wanted to take a few pictures. I had heard that Alberto Gilardino, a calciatore (soccer player) for the Fiorentina, would be coming too, but he didn't show up until the premiazione (prize giving) at the end.

The Piazza Santa Croce was packed with people and I couldn't move from where I was standing until Cesare Prandelli left the palcoscenico. They said that there were over 12,000 people signed up to do the race, but I couldn't tell if everyone was there or not. At the start of the corsa, I was finally able to make my way through the crowds. I didn't want to do the corsa alone, but as I kept going, I realized that I wasn't the only one da sola (by myself).

As we walked down Corso dei Tintori, turned onto via dei Benci, and over Ponte alle Grazie, I noticed that the poliziotti (policemen) had stopped all the traffic for us. The crowds took up the entire street and both sidewalks. It was impressive to see so many people together in the street like this.

When we were all walking up the rampe (ramps/inclines) in Piazza Poggi, I noticed that I wasn't the only one with a macchina fotografica. We were fortunate to have clear blue skies so that we could better appreciate the view of the city from many of the places we went to, like the Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden), San Miniato, and Piazzale Michelangiolo. Many people stopped to take some photos of themselves with the spectacular city as the backdrop.

Once I got up to the top near San Miniato, there were fewer people and I was able to run back down the hill. I grabbed some water while I was up there and took off. Only a handful of people were running while most others were hand in hand, in large groups taking up the entire path, or pushing strollers. I zigzagged my way through the crowds and one other girl followed me down as I made a path for myself.

Some people also stopped off at a few of the rest points to visit gardens and palazzi (palaces) that are generally closed. I wanted to keep running, so I didn't stop once. I ran all the way back to Piazza Santa Croce where we were counted as we passed under the sign that said, "Arrivo" (Finish line).

I stretched out next to some other runners, and walked to the back of the piazza where they were giving away water, fruit, and milk. I hung around the piazza for a short time, but had to leave before the premiazione so I didn't get to see Gilardino.

Not only was the corsa for a good cause, but it was a lot of fun even though I did it da sola. I liked it so much that I'm even considering doing the longer one, which is about 12.5 kilometers, next year with Alessandro.

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