We are all familiar with marathons, however Florence’s definitely takes the title for the most scenic. Every corner you pass is brimming with stunning architecture. As over 10,000 people take to pounding the pavements of Florence’s 42-kilometre course, we have taken a look at some of the highlights of the track and the best places to view the runners.
The course starts at the world-famous Piazza Duomo – if that isn’t an impressive send-off, we don’t know what is. The piazza makes the perfect starting point thanks to its large space. Onlookers can gather to cheer on loved ones and locals.
The course passes the Parco delle Cascine, Florence’s historical park. This is Florence’s largest area of green and throughout the year sees rollerbladers, joggers and families enjoying picnics. And of course, during marathon time, it’s the perfect place to stop and watch the run. This area also plays host to the biggest open-air market in Florence. The II Mercato delle Cascine takes place every Tuesday, between 8am and 2pm.
During the course, the marathon makes its way along the Fiume Arno (river) and see the competitors run back and forth over the city’s bridges, including Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in Florence. This iconic bridge is over 600 years old and is definitely a must-see, so it’s worth trying to tie in your marathon-supporting with a visit.
The view of the bridge is even better than being on it, so make a beeline for the banks. Florence’s river banks can make an ideal place to stop and watch.
Moving on to Porta Romana, the southernmost gate in Florence’s 13th-century city walls. In front of the gate stands a marble statue of Michelangelo Pistoletto, an Italian painter. The Porta Romana has recently shot to fame as the starting point of Professor Langdon’s itinerary in Dan Brown’s latest adventure, Inferno. This area provides plenty of opportunities to watch the marathon while marvelling at the ancient gates.
Sights along this route just get better (we would even consider signing up!). The Piazza Santa Croce is a wonderful place to watch. This square is one of the largest and most famous in Florence and at its heart is the Basilica of Santa Croce – standing proud and overlooking the square. Other historical sites located in the square are the Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori, a 15th-century masterpiece, and the Palazzo dell’Antella, stretching most of the way along the south side of the square. This building’s façade is decorated with frescos by Giovanni da San Giovanni, a famous Italian painter. Tie in your visit to the Piazza with an caffe. Sitting square-side is one of our favourite things to do and the marathon provides the ultimate people-watching opportunity.
For football fanatics, the race passes the Stadio Comunale. Home to ACF Fiorentina, consider tying in your trip with a home game.
The marathon finishes off where it started, back at the heart of Florence: the Duomo. If you are feeling energised and inspired, take the 463 steps to the top of this remarkable cathedral. The views from the top are well worth the climb.
Will you be visiting Florence during the marathon? Do you have any recommendations for the best viewing spots in the city?