At the end of August this year it was finally time for our long awaited family holidays to the Tuscan countryside. We typically arrived at our hotel with our rented cinquecento (large version) filled to the brim. Our hotel complex called ‘Il Borro’ is a restored medieval village and pays homage to true Italian taste. All restorations have taken place with absolute respect to the roots of the place and being there is a trip back in time. Everything fits in place and nothing bothers the eye. The village is at the top of a rocky hill with views to the Tuscan mountains, that suggest how incredibly beautiful this place will look in the winter. Below us was a valley with dirt tracks that were inviting one to go exploring. The place was truly breathtaking.
So on my third night there Ι set my alarm for a stupidly silly hour in the morning for someone on holiday, in order to go for a run before the summer heat got too much. The next morning I got up and got ready as quietly as possible in order to not disturb the other holiday-makers (my husband and son. I went down the village road and after shouting ‘Buongiorno’ to the old man at the corner house that was just staring his day, off I went into the dirt road of the valley. The path was covered in trees and I couldn’t believe I was finally running in Tuscany! I tried to pay some attention to where I was going, as there were a couple of different paths I could take, but really it was all fairly straight forward. I was a bit startled when in the field on my right a herd of wild boars (little ones as far as I could tell) were also startled by me and started running a bit panicky. Not knowing anything about farming, I wasn’t sure if they were going to come after me, there was nowhere I could hide anyway. Luckily they did not pursue me! After about one kilometer or so I arrived at a farm. I tried to keep going past it but soon realized that this was the end of the path and therefore turned back. Once back at our village I took the route that takes one from the car park all the way up and out of the hotel complex, which was uphill all the way. Once at the top I took a left on the country road and ran for about another kilometer on the side of it. Some cars came by but all drivers took note of me and left me plenty of space. However, as I like to run with my music on and as several curves were coming up I turned back once more. Once I reached the hotel gate I turned left into another dirt road. I came past a beautiful cemetery and kept going into the wilderness. The paths were all dirt paths with lots of stones and pebbles so I think this qualifies as I trail run. Evidence of horses having gone by was evident and some really persistent horse flies made their appearance, but I managed to escape them. I was finally running amongst the infamous Tuscan vineyards and breathtaking sunflower fields, nothing else around me apart from those and the very occasional traditional houses. I felt adventurous and kept going far into the fields for about another 5km. I am a city girl and nature sometimes scares me (such as snakes and other bugs) but I came across none of those and safely returned home. I managed a 15km hilly trail run that felt harder than it should, but I had managed to take in what this part of the world is really about. Back to the comfort of the hotel I devoured a good breakfast and tried to describe to my boys where I had just been over a nice Italian cup of cappuccino, which was later followed by some lovely Chianti wine.
Where to go
‘Il Borro’ is at the heart of Tuscany, 20km from Arezzo and 60km from Florence and Siena. The nearest town is San Giustino Valdarno. Although I absolutely recommend this hotel, it is not for everyone’s pocket. One can find more reasonably priced accommodation in the various agrotourismo type places that are part of the local vineyards.
Type of run
Trail and undulating.
The Garmin link to this workout can be found here:
An absolute must is a good bug repellent to keep away flies and mosquitos.
Light clothes if visiting in the summer, temperatures of around 30oC are typical in the summer.
Water bottles if going for a long run as there is nowhere to buy water along the way.
Where to eat
An absolute favourite was Osteria dell’Acquolina. Very nice food and really friendly place. The restaurant tables are at the edge of an olive field. Address: Frazione Cicogna, 96, 52028 Terranuova Bracciolini AR, Italy