On a warm, sunny morning, I walked from my cosy hostel near the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano to the Parco della Caffarella, a sprawling and confusing park in the South of Rome. Not that finding the run, or its route, is confusing, but afterwards I got confused by what I was allowed to run on and what I wasn’t – bits of the park seemed to have “private!” signs, though I was unchallenged, and others were walking there. There is some, I think, old Roman road to the South, which may even be a part of the Appian Way. Certainly the latter is round here, along with other historic roads. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that in this part of the world, all the roads really are leading to Rome, but it did spark a reaction in my tired head.
I was not feeling especially sprightly, but was able to coax myself into a jog to have a look at the course. I am glad I did. As you turn left to go down towards what we called “the meadow” (where you do two long loops) there is some rocky footing, and you go from sun to shade – not wearing sunglasses is probably the best option. There’s a marshal there to make sure you go the right way. Easy on the way down, as there are signs, but not on the way back (if you, like me, have no memory for where you came from).
It’s a short jaunt down to the meadow, then a couple of long loops. The back straight, in particular, is long, accentuated by the fact that you run past the turn, so have to come back on yourself a little. Back up (and it is slightly up) the rocky section, a loop round the playground, past the start and then you finish. The run director can then, and did, explain that the park, as well as being beautiful, is archaeologically significant, and is bisected by the Appian way.
Finish line, tourists and locals gather to chat.
Caffarella parkrun finish line.
I stood around in the sunshine, chatting to fellow tourists and a couple of locals, before heading off to do a longer run around the park. I didn’t manage to find my way to the other park that is to the South of this one, but did find the sheep, someone’s drive, a busy road, plenty of greenery and some views over the city. There isn’t a huge climb, so it’s worth the jog to look back over the rooftops. You’re not going to be short of cobbled roads in Rome, but there’s a nice stretch to find in the middle of the park, if you want to feel you are following in the footsteps of archaeologists.
Siena is known for its art. I am sure I’ve even heard people say it’s more beautiful than Florence, though I suspect the truth is that it’s easier to get at the art, and there’s less distance to travel between attractions. It is certainly a lovely city; plenty of tourists, yet not as crazy as Florence, and its two-hour queue for the Duomo.
As with so many of the cities in Italy, it is on a hill, so there’s plenty of climbing if you walk much of it, but there are views from all over the place.
I wandered into town, a couple of kms from the Siena hostel, then a couple more to actually get to the centre, passing brick buildings, statues and views periodically. As walks go, it was ever so relaxing, because of all the sights.
A gate, with some large fragments of paintings inside.
Terraced house, with large wooden doors and green-shuttered windows.
Quite by chance, I found my way to the Palazzo Salimbeni, which is a popular spot. It is also a great one to stumble upon if you’re not in the mood to stop for long, because although it is picturesque, and may be mobbed with people, you can’t actually go in the Palazzo. Stop, look, picture, um, yeah.
I was wondering if I considered looking at the beautiful architecture enough, or should check to see where might be good to see some art. Then, at the end of a nondescript street, I popped into a church.
A riot of colour in the triptych.
Back of the church, above the door.
View through a window.
I’m sure the place is in many a guidebook, but it seems typical of Siena (particularly as I clicked through photos of other churches, trying to find out which one this was) that this place is stunning, yet had only four other people in it at the time. There’s a small museum out the back, as well, with livery and clothes.
Brick church with very high door.
View of the Torre del Mangia, 87m high, overlooking the main piazza.
Impressed by the art, I went back to strolling about through the streets; buildings are impressive, churches sometimes small and part of the street, sometimes grand, and there is detail, gargoyles, statues, everywhere.
After a little longer, I found myself at the Cathedral, which is grand, even from the slightly more austere back side. The front rises grandly, with a few steps in front for people to stand on and gawp. The queue for entry looked a little long, though apparently you can buy tickets online to avoid some of the effort. And go earlier than I did.
Duomo di Siena, the Cathedral.
Side view of the Duomo.
Archway near the Duomo.
I spent time over a couple of days just walking through the streets, up and down hills and sometimes flights of steps, just taking in the views, then losing myself in narrower alleyways (many of which are roads, so watch for cars careering round corners) before emerging to more architectural beauty. It’s a lovely city.
Le Due Porte.
View of the Basilica dei Servi.
The Fortezze Medicea is an old fort,
View of Siena, and the Basilia Caterinia San Domenico, from the Fortezza Medicea.
Certaldo is proud of its claim to be the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio (though the wikipedia page, linked to, says the location is uncertain), with a whacking great statue of him in the main town square, and museum up in the old town. The main road in Certaldo Alto is named after him, too.
The old town is reached by one of two cobbled paths, a windy road, or the funicular railway. It isn’t far, but the paths up are pretty steep and, given how it felt after a short shower, possibly a bit slippery when wet.
Cobbled path, tree-lined. Accessed through an old archway.
Cobbled path by the funicular, lined by houses.
The path takes you up quickly, so after a little effort you are rewarded by views over Certaldo and the surrounding area. Tuscany is good at views, for sure.
The town itself is very small – you can walk pretty much every street in half an hour or so. Poking round the museums will take a little longer, and you’ll be there a couple of hours if you stop at every gelato shop. There are more down the hill, so you can gelato your way all around the locale if you are so minded. This is a common feature round here.
The lanes are narrow and pretty, other than the wide Via Boccaccio. To my eye, it looked a little more liveable, less cluttered and squashed in, than some of the other old towns I’ve passed through.
Old brick buildings, some rebuilt after WW2 damage, line the sides.
Via Boccaccio has restaurants and gelato shops.
Medieval gate, Porta Alberti.
I walked round the town happily for a while, decided the restaurants were a little too busy on this Easter Monday, as were the gelato shops, and so headed down the hill for a pizza (Cavour, in Certaldo new town, is very good). Those views, though.
San Gimignano (wikipedia page) is a beautiful medieval town, marked by its many towers. Rich men of the city used to build them to show their wealth. At one point there were over 70, but advertising so much wealth turned out not to be such a great idea, so they thinned out the number, leaving fourteen. Which still makes for a distinctive skyline.
My hostel offered a there-and-back lift for 15 euros, or bike hire for 10. But it is only 11km. Assuming you go by the shortest route, for which you ought to download Maps.me, which marks dirt roads and footpaths that other maps have not yet heard of, and works offline. I missed a right turn onto a dirt road, distracted by tackling the hill ahead of me, so did over 12k to get there. And an unnecessary hill. But it was still a great jaunt, and the hard work is toward the end.
The 11km route, mostly off the roads.
The 12km+ route, with bonus hill, and a little more road.
It’s perfectly walkable, too, if you fancy it. There’s a cruel valley towards the end, just as San Gimignano comes into view you are taken down on a winding road, past a factory or two, losing height only to have to regain it immediately.
The town is full of tourists. It isn’t tiny, so there’s room to move, even on an Easter Sunday, but you definitely know you are in a major attraction. I arrived just after 11, so finding a quiet restaurant was easy. I ordered in simple Italian, and was under no illusion that the server thought I was Italian. I was, however, surprised when she complimented the other two patrons, two ladies from Michigan, on their “lovely, upright, British accents”. Hello? British person right here! I had a quick chat with the ladies on my way out, and we departed in a flurry of mutual accent appreciation.
Sloping lane with tourists milling, and a tower at the end.
A city gate.
Narrow lane, decorated arches.
Wandering the lanes is a pleasure. And a workout in itself, as not all of them are flat, by any means. If you want to take a shortcut, then you’ll probably climb or descend a side-alley fairly precipitously.
Grassy spot, looking up at a few towers.
Main pedestrian gate, much less scenic bus station and car park behind, not pictured.
Tall tower with high arch underneath.
There is a combined ticket for the museums, for 9 euros, or a wider one, at 13 euros, allowing access to several different places in the city. I took neither, happy to let lunch settle and then use the energy to return.
View over the city.
Looking over the landscape from the city.
Heading back on a dirt road, through olive-growing fields.
Apart from the towns, the rolling hills and the distinctive brick and tile houses, I have been fascinated by the ruined buildings. Some are obviously farmhouses, untended and unloved. Others are larger, pointing to abandoned factory work.
Old hay storage
However you get there, San Gimignano is beautiful and worth a look. But don’t forget to poke about in the landscape around it if at all possible.
Firenze parkrun is in the large Parco delle Cascine, an easy 2-3km walk from the middle of Florence, or SMN station if you arrive by train, as I did (having stayed in Certaldo, a 50-60minute ride away).
The park is big, but because it is cut by roads and tram tracks, the course only uses a part of it. It is (just under) three simple laps, anti-clockwise, starting near the bottom right of the long straight at the top, finishing at the bottom right.
Or at least, it should be. On the day, the turn around marshal dutifully pointed us left into the woods, some twit Englishman was in front so couldn’t correct her, and we were back at the start about 4.5 minutes after “go!”. Which is pretty quick for a 1.7km loop. Panicked instructions were sent up the line at some point, and by the time I got back to that early turn, the arrow had gone, to be replaced at the end of the straight, where it belonged.
At that point, I wondered what to do. I saw the finish funnel in place, at the end of the lap, and clearly we were going to be well short. As I came round for the third time, though, the funnel had been moved and so I gratefully followed instructions round the corner, past the start, and finished.
I still hadn’t run 5k, though, and the event director checked – on the move – with a regular who was just behind me, and we hurriedly decided to run on and stop at 5k.
That readjusted, then readjusted again, finish made for a brief period of chaos, as our outstretched hands showed the finish for the next few, while the volunteers brought cones and timers up. But it worked, people queued in order to have their barcodes scanned, and the rising temperature warmed us all.
It is a lovely, and simple (I feel some responsibility for not knowing we were being directed wrongly; if the front few had gone the right way, everyone else could have followed) course. The top straight is on tarmac, then the middle section is on a narrow hard-packed mud path through the woods. The volunteers are friendly and, this being Florence, the count of tourists is high, so they make a point of checking where people are from to give different countries and cities a shout out before we get going.
Afterwards we gathered in the playground, with some cake provided, and a water fountain nearby. There are toilets in the next mini-park over, and you can leave bags etc. in the playground, with a volunteer deputed to keep an eye over them.
A lovely run, mostly shaded so as cool as it can be if the day is warm, and the park itself is a welcome relief from the crowds and queues within the ancient beauty of Florence itself.
I wrote about the Via just the other day, so for more about the direction arrows and history, see the blog post from the 16th April. I had a day free this week, had accomodation booked in Certaldo, to the South, figured my bag wasn’t that heavy and so why not take on walking the full stage, rather than the 11km I had run previously?
This is 5km in, just after the water point which is a natural spot to stop at as you turn off the road section from San Miniato.
Tree-lined dirt road.
I emailed Ostello Sigerico, just outside Gambassi Terme, to check they could fit me in. It isn’t bookable via my usual routes – Hostelworld or Booking.com – probably because they are busy enough with pilgrims. They also don’t speak English, but writing an email in Italian is pretty simple with the help of online translators. I asked for dinner to be included, which I recommend highly. Partly because it was good, but mostly because the camaraderie at the end of a day’s walking is almost the best thing about the whole experience.
Sign in case you move too fast and miss the view off to the right. It seems unlikely.
The panoramic view.
The lowest sign has instructions that you will have to go up and down a hill to get to the refreshments. “This is to prevent complaining”.
This panorama opens up over halfway through and was stunning enough to make me blink.
Stunning, The route is stunning. Entirely coincidentally, there is a BBC series on at the moment, so various people were even more envious of my wandering than they might have been, having already seen some of the views. The first 5km are mostly uphill, on roads – fairly quiet, must roads nonetheless. They you turn onto what they call a “marvellous track” on the official website, where it would be easy to lose time at a water point (there aren’t many of those on this route) as the view over the landscape is so beautiful. The next few kilometres take you along tree-lined dirt roads, with occasional longer views.
And then I emerged onto a ridge, as the path climbed then dropped gently, with a view in every direction, and was almost teary-eyed from the view. It wasn’t as if the view had been industrial or otherwise unpleasant before, but this felt very special. It helped that it was a beautiful day, warm sunshine with a cool breeze. “Tuscany is beautiful!” said a German at dinner. He was right. “Gosh, that is a new thought,” said his Italian friend, gently pointing out that yes, the world knows. Still, it really is worth looking at.
I think the old, abandoned buildings are fascinating.
Old yellow and russet coloured building, abandoned.
How many shades of green
Olive trees staked out.
Tuscan agriculture under a blue sky.
At the top of a climb, 20km in, I found a trio of walkers, a couple of benches and a turn onto the road in to Gambassi Terme. With check-in at 2.30, I had some time to kill, and chose to pass 30 minutes or so here, looking back over the path I’d walked up, through a farm and its olive groves. One of the walkers asked if I was doing the Via Francigena, and I felt duty-bound to say yes, but just the one day.
View through trees over distant hills, from Ostello Sigerico.
Narrow alley, Gambassi Terme
Brick buildings and bell tower, Gambassi Terme.
Gambassi sign on the edge of town.
After a couple of kilometres walked along the side of the road – on a safe, if narrow path, the other side of the armco, I wandered up to the Ostello. It is a kilometre short of the town, which is a blessing when you arrive. Less so if you want to get to the small supermarket in town, though there is a combined petrol station and bar just up the road. That same walker was waiting, alone, at the Ostello, which wasn’t going to be open till 3. No matter, it’s a beautiful building, and the walk there takes you round the edge and into a courtyard. You can wait there, or in the garden, which is through an arch, and has views over town.
He, the walker, was Italian with decent English having spent some time in Canterbury. I think he was going the whole pilgrimage from there, in pieces over time. He was happy to help me and a Dutch couple get what we needed from the welcoming staff member, and the three of us, plus the young German and Italian, ate together at dinner. The Dutch couple are pilgrimage (and marathon-walking) veterans, giving us pointers on others. At the moment, the Via Francigena seems a great choice; less busy than the Camino, and with it still being possible, at least out of season, to just wander most of the route and pick up accommodation as you go. Tourist hotspots, like San Gimignano, need a bit more planning, but in general, you can walk pretty unencumbered by thought.
Gambassi Terme – Certaldo
The next day, I walked 5km of the Via, mostly downwards, passing other pilgrims along the way. Once over a small stream, the Via turned right (and on to San Gimignano, 13km or so in total) while I went left, following a hard mud path for another 5km, then farm tracks and a couple of roads through an industrial area for the last 2km into Certaldo. I stayed at the Bassetto Guesthouse. It isn’t, any more, on the Via Francigena, but isn’t a long walk off piste if you fancy it. And it is a wonderful place to stay. It’s an old stone farmhouse, in the main, with single beds in dorms, a big kitchen, wine flowing and welcoming staff and guests. For me, a couple of drunken late nights served as reward for walking and exploring.
Typical view downhill.
Farmhouse near the beginning of this stage.
One of their friends is having a bad day, so two girls carry her rucksack, suspended on a branch.
I had been given a town a tip to visit the town of Vinci, in particular the museum devoted to its most famous son, Leonardo da Vinci, from Jackie, a parkrunner, in Rimini. Ease of access to the town was my original reason for staying in San Miniato, as that lets you get there with a train to Empoli and bus (49) to Vinci.
The museum costs €13 if you want to visit all the different sites. There are four, none of them over-large, so any other ticket may see you in and out fairly quickly. The main reason to limit yourself to just the first two sets of exhibits might be physical, given that the farmhouse and Da Vinci’s birthplace are each a good 2-3km walk away, and 1km from each other.
A tank; wheels covered, guns poking every which way.
This is designed to let armies quickly cross rivers. If you search for Da Vinci bridge, you will find people re-creating it with pencils.
The first museum I came to is also the main ticket office (which means staff there speak multiple languages). The ground floor has lots of different models which recreate Da Vinci’s designs. The models are the highlight. Of necessity to me, perhaps, as most of the text is in Italian and though there are a couple of points that advertise picking up English translations here, they were empty. There is an app, and an audio guide, which probably give more.
Upstairs is a small anatomy exhibition. I didn’t think this photographed all that well, but his drawings are extraordinary, made from dissection of cadavers, and still important. This National Geographic article points out that a team in Ireland have just proven that the mesentery (connecting the intestines and abdomen) is one continuous organ. Da Vinci drew just that in 1508.
View from the museum’s first floor.
Panoramic view of Vinci and the fields that surround it.
Bell at the top of the viewing tower, Vinci museum.
Looking down from the very top of the museum; one row of houses and cars, fields stretch away, behind.
A short walk away, initially through a courtyard artistically-decorated with geometric shapes, is the main museum, covering Da Vinci’s life with exhibits and some audiovisual pieces. The one that talks through his birth is worth waiting for, with images projected onto walls around you as the audio plays. There are more models on the ground floor, those audiovisual exhibits on the first, plus some views over the valley from outside, and then a climb up the tower gives greater views from the top.
Geometric shape display, in the tower. I glanced in on the way down, rather than get distracted from the climb up the stairs.
3d version of Vitruvian Man, Da Vinci.
Paintings on theme of peace by children from around the world. I do not think the UK was properly briefed.
Decorated car in town.
It was fairly quiet in town, except for the school trips. At one point, a guard detached himself from his post at the front door, and wandered down towards wherever the noise was coming from. Within moments, the sound ceased, and there was plenty of shushing whenever I got near to the group (not that there is room to get far away). In addition, they were sent up the tower in patches, while individuals were allowed to go round. Which all worked pretty well, saving us from getting caught in queues. At weekends, queueing might be inevitable.
Cute narrow street, Vinci.
The other two sites are smaller. Leonardo’s birthplace has one main exhibit, which is an ‘experience’, with an aged Da Vinci appearing to narrate parts of his life, and another voice taking over to add detail. It’s quite odd – I thought the performance pretty hammy, with several too many…
dramatic pauses, but that doesn’t prevent the subject itself being interesting. The farmhouse, further down (or on the way up, if you like, though as it’s off to the left as you walk up the hill, it’s better as a diversion on the way back), has just two rooms, with reproductions of Da Vinci’s most famous paintings. Some reviews are a bit caustic, but I thought there was just enough explanatory text to bring them to life, and it’s a chance to get up close to great works, without fending off great crowds. It’s much easier to get an idea of why the Mona Lisa remains the subject of debate when you can walk across her, seeing how the smile changes as you study it.
There is also an interpretive garden on the way up, not far out of town, taking you on a short trail, with switchbacks, with installations to represent parts of Da Vinci’s life and his surroundings.
Most of the walk, if you don’t go up the road (which is possible) is along trails, baked by the sun on the good day I got, through olive groves, climbing up the hill and giving you views over the town behind you.
Hard-packed track under blue skies.
View over the countryside. Via Francigena (pilgrimage route) marking on the pole.
The Via Francigena is a pilgrimage route to Rome from the North. It can run as far as Canterbury, though it is simple enough to pick it up at other points in France or Italy. Several of the people staying in my accommodation tonight started in Lucca, for instance. The English section is pretty short. In fact, the whole thing doesn’t seem massive. Perhaps it is because I’ve been in Italy over 4 weeks, so feel I have come a long long way in that time (but haven’t, really, with more lateral travel than other), but I was surprised to see a sign saying ‘only’ 1311km to Canterbury. England, France, Italy – that feels close.
The way is under development in places, and is re-routed from time to time. I was diverted from what looks to be a nice path in San Miniato – perhaps it has been muddy over the winter – and around a field to the South. Neither were dramatic. Entertainingly, the wikipedia page suggests people occasionally re-route towards their restaurant or other business. And I ran up a path, round the back of San Miniato, which had some old paint to mark the route, but is now not a part of it. You’d not go far wrong taking an old path, from my limited experience.
Below, a few pictures of different route markings. The stickers seem the newest, but the old ones still apply. Sometimes.
White and red stripes mark the route in places.
More white and red stripes on a pole.
Via Francigena sticker on a pole.
VF stone route marker.
Pilgrim on a sign with sticker below. Here, a short path to the right avoids a sharp corner on a road.
There are also a few apps with directions etc. I tried Sloways and Via Francigena, and both seemed useful. The route was simple enough to follow – a couple of times the way wasn’t clear at a t-junction, but there was a sign soon after. So if you don’t see one, try the other direction. The apps may be of most use in looking ahead to get an idea of where you’ll be headed the next day.
There are occasional points of medical aid. This one had a book of dedications, held in a saucepan which was held up by pile of rocks and a saucepan as a lid.
Sometimes the views dropping away to the side are beautiful, and are the obvious thing to look at, but there are details to spot along the way, too.
Olive tree with plastic bottle attached. Most, but not all, had a bottle like this. Something to attract pollinators?
Flowers are in bloom en route.
Small shrine, North of San Miniato.
I ran the first 11km of (Italian) stage 30, paused, ran back about 6km and then walked the rest of the way (much of which was uphill), stopping at a small cafe cum shop about 2km out of San Miniato. It was fabulous. As the route description has it;
“A marvellous route, quite hard lacking road-houses [which means there are few places to eat, Ed]. From San Miniato, after an hour walk along the asphalt road, enter an extraordinary track among hill crests in Val d’Elsa.”
That hour’s walk translates to just over 5km mostly on the roads (occasional paths along the side avoid the more dangerous stretches) before you turn onto a solid, pebbly underneath, winding trail.
It’s a lovely walk. I might be converted and do some more of these stages. Without religion, but I felt no sense that I didn’t belong.
Some cities make their attractions obvious. Montecatini Terme is clearly a pretty town to walk around, and those spa buildings are gorgeous, even if, in April, you mostly can’t get in the grounds to look around them. But what else do people look at around here?
Montecatini Alto, the medieval village on the hill that overlooks the city, is the main thing. The funicular railway that runs up is €4 one way and €7 both. We figured we’d start the walk, see what it was like and turn back to catch a ride up if necessary. Reviews warn that the track can be slippery, but there was no danger of that on a dry day. And of course, once we’d walked for half an hour or so, we could see progress, and continuing to walk up was fine. There are a couple of steeper sections, but they’re not so tough (or so early) as to make you turn round in disgust.
Path up the hill to Montecatini Alto.
The joy of stopping to take a photo while the funicular rolls by.
Once climbed, and the shortest route doesn’t take all that long, you come immediately to a viewpoint.
View over Montecatini from Montecatini Alto.
Panorama of the valley
It’s a small village, with a few churches and the old stronghold to see.
Main square, restaurants and bars surrounded by buildings.
Pizza restaurant with a caged bird, main square.
Stronghold with Da Vinci machines for an exhibition (open soon, but not on this day).
“You think Christ wants to see another cross, if he comes back?” Bill Hicks.
Apart from the views and the satisfaction at walking up, spending the funicular money on a pizza which was serenaded by the bird in the picture above, my highlight was the monument/installation dedicated to Saint Barbara.
Check it out. The gun pulled me in, and soon I was reading the description. I reproduce it in full for you below. One highlight; “The patron saint of attendants in charge of explosives preparation and storage and, more generally…” Yes, you are not kidding, those other things are slightly more general.
“This unique monument is dedicated to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of Montecatini Terme, whose relic is kept in the museum of the Saint Peter’s Parish Church nearby. The Catholic Church celebrates Saint Barbara on December 4th.
Saint Barbara is the patron saint of the attendants in charge of explosives preparation and storage and, more generally, she is invoked against lighting, fire, sudden and violent and danger. She is the protector of the Italian Military Navy, the Fire Brigade, the Army (Artillery and Civil Engineers) as well as of the miners and oil workers, geologists, mountain men, architects, bell ringers, towers and fortresses.
The monument is dominated by the Saint’s statue located on the top right-hand side, on a simple stone altar which rests on a Karst-gravelled ground (place of bloody battles during World War I). The monument shows the particular symbols represented by the historical finds regarding the various institutions that are under Saint Barbara’s projection.”
There is so much going on there. I mean, if you’re considering careers and fancy something with a bit of edge, bear in mind you might have missed one. Hmm, military in some way? Mountaineering? Perhaps bell ringing? Wait, what was that last one?
We walked back down, gazing down the funicular track, taking in the small shrines along the way and watching the green city centre get ever closer.
Montecatini-Terme is a Spa town, albeit one whose spas are mostly closed at this time of year. It is, though, full of hotels, and those hotels are generally pretty close to the park. In my case, it was a case of turning right out of the entrance and from there I could see the Teatro Verdi, at the bottom of the map, above. Yes, that close, so I explored the park the day before.
I didn’t manage to work out the course, not totally, but I got the rough idea. If you know you go clockwise, that helps a lot. On the day, I followed the enthusiastic and friendly (he gave me a hug when we were introduced!) youngster, introduced as “the local champion”, and took, accidentally, literally the instructions that I should follow him for a lap and then run off once I knew where I was going. Sorry, local champion!
The pre-run briefing was minimal, as has often been the case in Italy, but the local Irish-Italian (born there, lives here) had spoken to most of us, in any case. Attendance was swelled by the Taplow Youth Choir, who have been touring in Tuscany for the week. Invited by Burgess Runner Simon, to whom we talked Green Belt Relay, we pitched up at their concert in the Basilica that evening. Those kids could sing.
Many of them could run, too, with the others choosing to walk. I think some were left at the hotel, so this hadn’t been a compulsory piece of fun, but most of them attended, which is brilliant.
Parco delle Terme. The park is called “the lung of the city”.
Judas tree in the park.
1500mt loop sign in the park. The parkrun route is not quite this.
Sitting circle (benches) in the park.
We had a nice front four, me, local champion and a couple of young bass tenors. I managed to leave them behind, proud of myself until realising just how young they were when they sang in lovely shiny outfits, later that evening.
Libby, from my club, 26.2 (Surbiton, England) had come out to join me and run her 4th Italian parkrun, and here we look ecstatic at the finish. The joy turned to minor worry later, as the results were an obvious problem. Crucial keys had been taken to Rome, so the crew had no kit, signs, stopwatches etc., and were just aiming to do their best.
We got results late on Sunday, after an appeal by (I assume) a returning run director for us to send in our times and positions. We got ours in there straight away, but at the mo, only two others have. They’ll either get all of the choir later, or none of them. And then, some years hence, when those young folk get into parkrun, they will say to themselves “Oh, I wish I could get that Terme parkrun added!” So speaks a semi-obsessed park runner, grateful to have added his sixth Italian parkrun to the list, officially.