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Running In The City

Contributed By Michele Gonzalez, Author of NYC Running Mama
My husband and I spent almost three weeks in Italy in July 2009.  It was a celebratory trip – I had just been honorably discharged as a Captain from the Army (after serving on Active Duty for 6 years) and my husband had just finished NYU’s Stern Business School.  We were both getting ready to start “life in the real world” and decided to spend some time abroad.

Italy was a no-brainer for us – my mom’s whole family is Italian (very Italian) and I had yet to visit our homeland!  Paul was stationed in Vicenza, Italy for three years during his time in the Army and wanted to return.  We spent most of our time in Rome, Florence, and Tuscany.
My husband and I are healthy eaters about 95% of the time; however, when we are on vacation, we let ourselves splurge and enjoy the local cuisine…but three weeks of pasta, wine, dried meats, cheese, and gelato is not a recipe for success!  We’ve gone on vacations before where we didn’t stay as active as we wanted and returned home feeling overweight, bloated, and unhealthy.
We knew that we wanted to remain as active as we could during our trip (and needed to because of all the food, wine, and dessert we were planning on consuming).  But we were staying in small, local hotels that did not have gyms or treadmills so we decided to combine two of our favorite things – running and sightseeing.
Our plan was to map out 5-8 mile route that included sights we wanted to see.  Each night, we would sit down with our map and pencil in the route we wanted to take the next day.  Most of the sights we selected were buildings/statues/bridges that we only needed/wanted to see once (for example – the Spanish Steps or the Circus Maximus)
Advantages
Stayed active during our 3 week trip and returned home without having gained any weight
- Started each day off refreshed and happy from a great early morning run
- Visited many sites that were on the outskirts of the cities that would have been difficult or expensive to visit by foot or taxi
Ran with our camera and were able to take pictures at all the noteworthy sites
- If there was something that looked interesting, we made it a point to return to it at some point during our stay in that city
- Started our run before 7am each day and were able to avoid crowds and heat (it gets HOT in July in Italy).  It was pretty special to see some of the most famous sites in Italy without any other tourists around
- Most days we were finished with our run/sightseeing by 8 which allowed us to be showered, finished with breakfast, and ready to explore the city by 930
A few pictures from our adventure:

The beautiful Colosseum

Vatican City was empty at 7am!
...but packed by 12pm!!
We returned to the Trevi Fountain later this day to toss a coin in to return to Rome!
Safety Tips
- Run with a buddy (if possible)
- Always carry money, cell phone, and map with you at all times (tip: put money and map in ziploc bag and tuck in your shorts on your back)
- Try to stick to populated areas
- Head out after the sun comes up
- Let someone know where you will be / when you will be returning (since we were traveling alone, we would tell the front desk)
- Just remember – you could be in a foreign country and are likely not familiar with your surroundings – you can NEVER be too careful or follow too many safety measures  

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