Run with the Fashion Pack
The design capital of the world does not sound like the ideal location for running, but the catwalk is not the only place to strut your stuff in Milan: There are some wonderful running routes in this city, which bursts at the seams with great parks and running courses.
Whether you’re in the mood for a casual jog or a heart-racing run, a good starting point is outside the Duomo. Under construction since 1386, this is the world’s second-biggest Gothic cathedral and the focus for the entire city, with north-pointing streets directing you to Milan’s two great running parks.
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Plan Your Trip
The Giardini Pubblici is a lovely park less than a kilometer from the Duomo, where a few loops will give you your daily running fix. Head northeast from Duomo Square through the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, past La Scala Theatre, and keep north on Via Alessandro Manzoni. You’re skirting Milan’s most affluent neighbourhood now, so slow down and enjoy the the designer boutiques and beautiful people on Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga.
Once you reach the Giardini, you’ll be virtually alone until school finishes in the afternoon, but you’re sure to provide entertainment for the local bistro-goers, bemused by anybody moving beyond stroll speed. The gaping is not malicious, though, so forget your self-consciousness and enjoy the authentic feel of Milanese culture.
For a longer run, try Parco Sempione. Northwest from the Duomo, enter car-free Via Dante and you’ll see the Castello di Milano directly in front of you. Behind it is the sprawling park. With its blossoming trees, bridge-spanned ponds, and soft gravel paths, this is a wonderful oasis in a busy metropolis. A run around the perimeter will clock up about 4km, but the dozens of paths within the park give you options for longer sessions. Head for the west end for the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), the monument facing Paris that was built to celebrate Napoleon’s arrival in Milan.
Bosco in Citta
Milan has introduced a pioneering green project called Bosco in Citta (Woods in the City), which gives the very convincing impression that the city has disappeared into a pastoral country setting. More than three decades in the making, this initiative provides Milan’s residents with farmland and freedom right at their back door. If you like, you can spend hours running the paths around the vegetable gardens, lakes, and forests. With one turn, however, you’ll find yourself back in the city, on a main street such as Via Novara.
Escape the City
Head outside the city limits for more secluded runs. The 5K pedestrian circle around Idroscalo Lake is idyllic, with kayakers and picnickers making a pleasant backdrop for your exertions.
If you feel like a bit of competition, come to Milan in March. Stramilano weekend involves an elite half-marathon on Saturday and a 15k for 50,000 non-elite runners from the Duomo on Sunday There’s even a 5k Stramilanina for kids.
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Run With a Local
Everyone knows that running is good for your health, but a new Milanese initiative means it could be good for other people’s health too. Run in Milan is a new project to pair up volunteer Milanese runners with visitors who want to run. The initiative was launched in July 2012 and involves a partnership with local nonprofit groups aimed at raising money and awareness for the Milan-based cancer association LILT. Visitors can run in safety, while taking the local attractions and supporting a scheme that provides accommodation for children undergoing cancer treatment.
Aoife O’Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including car hire in Milan.