Sunday, 7 September 2014

Turin River Po Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.4 km (5.2 miles), terrain: flat

Turin running routes:
Valentino Park
River Po run

Superga hill trail run
For more running routes, see Route List.

If you fly into Turin (Torino in Italian), you realize how close it is to the Alps, with its suburbs crawling up to the first alpine foothills. The River Po, which flows through the city, begins its life a short distance away, tumbling down the alpine valleys as milky glacier water. But Turin itself is fairly flat and is open to the plains south of town, and the Po meanders peacefully through the city between green banks.
The River Po along the route
Although known as the industrial home of the Italian car industry (the suburb of Mirafiore is basically a Fiat town), Turin's old town remains intact, with dozens of baroque churches and little lanes and the castle area, with the main shopping streets radiating out from there, their arched arcades shading the sidewalks.

But other than the Giardini Reali (royal gardens, behind the palace) there isn't much green-space in the old town, so the riverfront trails provide some of the best running routes in town.

This route takes you from the heart of the Turin old town and then out along a stretch of the river towards the north. We'll start in Piazza Castello, at the royal palace and Palazzo Madama. This was the home of Italy's last kings. The kings of Savoy became the kings of Italy when the country was reunited in the nineteenth century, and Turin was the capital city for some time. But the last king, Umberto II, was tied too closely to the fate of Mussolini, and the country became a republic in 1946.
In front of the Palazzo Madama
Stand there in Piazza Castello, at the statue of Garibaldi and its little fountains. The flamboyant Palazzo Madama (ladies' palace) behind the statue, was the royal guest-house. If you look closely, you can see the four round, brick towers that remain of the old Roman western gate. The palace was added on to the towers. The royal palace is off to your left, behind the fence with the mounted-rider statues. Its part of the Polo Reale museum complex now.

Run around the right side of Palazzo Madama, heading east, and leave the square along Via Po. You are heading southeast, and there are arcades along both sides of the street. It's best to avoid the pedestrians by running outside the arcades, on sidewalk next to street.
Via Po arcades
After six blocks on Via Po, the street opens into Piazza Vittorio Veneto, lined with quite a few restaurants and bars, a favorite place for Turin nightowls. Keep running straight towards the river ahead, at about the 1-kilometer mark.
Piazza Veneto, heading towards the river
Cross Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I bridge, running towards the domed church on the other side. This side of town rises up the slopes of a ridge of hills, and is full of villas, but isn't very friendly for running.
Cross Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I bridge, then turn left!

To the right of the bridge, you'll see the Murazzi quays, formally used by the town's fishermen, but now also used for nightlife. In the summer, beach bars, a theater stage, volleyball courts and other activities are set up along the quays.

Now turn left and take the trail along the east side of the river, passing the little dam with its whitewater. Keep to the left side as a dirt path branches from the main path to follow the water.

Now you just run along the river for 3 more bridges, through a narrow riverside park.
Along the river trail
The paths come back together again after first bridge. The trail is quiet, as no street runs directly parallel to it. Most of it is shady, too, which is great, and you'll share it with quite a few other runners, bikers, dog-walkers and other pedestrians.

You soon pass a playground area, with a view above of the nice villas on the hillsides above.

The second bridge, at the 3.3-km mark, is a little pedestrian bridge, and nice spot to look at the river itself.

Cross the third bridge, Ponte Sassi, at the 4.4-km mark. As you cross the bridge, you can see the Alps off to the right side.

NOTE: you could continue running along the east bank for kilometers, if you want to add more distance.
Way back along Lungo Po Antonelli
After crossing the bridge, turn left and run homewards along the pedestrian trial through the narrow riverside green-strip.

There is a street next to the trail along this side, Lungo Po Antonelli, but it's fairly quiet.

At the second (pedestrian) bridge, you'll run by a lively neighborhood park with a loud, noisy playground.
Football-playing kids at the loud playground
Continue running westwards until you reach Corso Regina Margherita a tree-lined boulevard going off to the right diagonally, at the next bridge.

This is my least favorite section of the run. Corso Regina Margherita is not very scenic and it's a bit loud, but it's lined by two rows of trees.

When you cross Via Montebello, look to the left to see one of Turin's landmarks: the "Mole", with its huge spire. The building now houses the National Cinema Museum, and the closer you get, the more amazing it seems: the tower is like a series of Greek temples built one on top of the other going into the heavens. Definitely come back here later for a close look.
Running past the "Mole"
Two blocks later, at Via Carlo Denina, turn left to run into the Giardini Reali royal gardens. This is one of the nicest spots in town: green lawns and trees, with people relaxing on benches and mothers taking their kids to the playground.
In the Giardini Reali
Run along Viale dei Partigiani through the arched gates in the old defensive walls behind the palace, and in just 100 meters, you'll come out into Piazza Castello again, at the back side of Palazzo Madama.

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