by Melinda Gallo

Viewing the city while running along the Arno

On my first morning back in Florence, I was eager to go for a run to the Ponte all’Indiano at the end of the Parco delle Cascine. The sun was shining brightly over the city without a cloud in the sky. The air was so brisk that I could see my breath in front of me as I began to run. I headed down the lungarno (road along the Arno River) toward the Pone Vecchio. Because I started a little late, people were already out strolling the streets.

I ran down the narrow lungarno with cars and motorini (scooters) coming up from behind me and cars parked on my left. If I were in any other city, I wouldn’t dare run down a street with crowded sidewalks, but I think drivers in Florence know that there are always pedestrians and runners, especially now one week before the maratona (marathon).

The crowds thin out right after Ponte Santa Trinita and the sidewalk is wider as well. Pedestrians have to share it with bicyclists who often seem to be in a rush and trust that people won’t make any unexpected movements.

When I could, I peeked over the low brick wall to look out at the Arno. As I was running next to Piazza Ognissanti, I was enchanted by the view of San Frediano in Cestello on the Arno. The water was immobile and reflected an image of the church as if the Arno were a mirror.

At the entrance of the Cascine, I ran through a small luna park (amusement park) with a merry-go-round, roller coaster, and game stands. There were many runners out training for the upcoming marathon. I was surprised to see three people were riding horses along the riverbank. When I looked at them with the shady riverbank behind them (which was the opposite side of the Arno) and the trees with their fall-colored leaves, it looked almost like a painting.

As soon as I turned around at the Ponte all’Indiano, I was struck by the haze hanging over the low hills in the East. With the crisp colors in front of me and the softer ones in the distance, Florence looked just like a dream. Its beauty was magical.

I kept my eyes on the view even though my surroundings in the park were lovely. After I crossed the Ponte alla Vittoria, I looked out at the Arno with its colorful reflections of the buildings above it, but the hazy hillside was just too irresistible to overlook.

Even though I was happy when I crossed over Ponte alla Carraia and approaching Ponte Vecchio, I was sad not to see the hillside any more. What I love about running along the Arno is being able to see so much of the city in a relatively small amount of time. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of standing in any one location to take in a view, but the variety of what I get to see is great.

I’m happy to be back in Florence and am looking forward to another morning run to see more of my beloved city.

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