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.
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.