Length 8.3 km (5.2 miles), terrain: hilly, with long downhill section
Turin running routes:
River Po run
Superga hill trail run
For more running routes, see Route List.
If you've ever looked eastwards from central Turin, you'll see a ridge of green hills across the river, full of nature, looking like the perfect place for a great trail run. Well, that's just what it is. There is a big nature reserve around the highest hill, Superga, far from the urban bustle in the heart of town. You may have seen it: Superga is the tall 672-meter-high hill crowned by a big church, a cathedral, really.
|Superga hill and basilica in background, from River Po in central Turin|
Of course, you could also run all the way to the top, but I thought I would plot a route here that more people would want to run, avoiding the 440-meter climb. A nice feature of a run at Superga, is you get to see the huge domed basilica, plus you can take the wonderful old cog-train up to the top. They're both worth experiencing on their own.
So, if you're ready to get going, then get yourself to the piazza called Sassi (also called Piazza Modena) at the base of Superga hill, on the other side of the river. To get there, take tram-line 15 from Piazza Castelo in the city center to Sassi (Piazza Modena).
The little station for the cog-railway is right there at Sassi. Tickets cost €4 for a one-way ticket, and the train leaves every hour on the hour (and returns from Superga every hour on the half-hour). If you missed the train, you can also get to top with the 79B bus, which also runs once an hour. The bus goes up Via Superga, which runs parallel to the train line.
The train dumps you out at the top of the hill, just beneath the cathedral. You need to follow the trail a short way up the hill to get to the church. The yellow, classical basilica is beautiful enough on its own, and the terraces out front provide a great view of areas north and west, looking out at the nearby Alps. If you're lucky, and the air is clear, it looks like you can reach out and touch the snow-capped mountains along the horizon. I was there on the one cloudy day of the week, but that's my bad luck.
So, once you had a chance to enjoy the views, now is the time to enjoy the run.
Facing the cathedral, turn to your right and run to the trail map posted at the left edge of the parking lot. The map is at the trailhead. Now, just follow the rocky trail downwards from the parking lot. After 200 meters, it comes out to Via Superga at a trattoria. It smells so good there that you might just want to quit the run right on the spot.
But if you decide, heavy-heartedly, to carry on, turn left and run 100 meters until you see a turnoff heading uphill on the right side, and a sign for "Pino Torinese" (the next little town) and "Panoramica". This is the Strada dei Colli (also called Panoramica), where you have to head uphill past some houses for a few minutes, but then it flattens out and then heads downhill from there, through the green scenery of Parco Naturale della Collina di Superga.
|Bicyclists along Panoramica, with path along right side|
|Lookout point along Panoramica, with typical Turin drinking fountain|
|Trailhead at Monte Aman: follow the green-paw markers|
At Monte Aman, follow the trail markers with the green paw-print. I wanted to follow park trail 24, but there were no markers for it. But the green paw prints follow the same stretch of trail. After just a minute, you'll come to a junction in the trail, where one trail turns south to head downhill, with a sign pointing to "Il Sentiero degli Alberi". Don't turn left there: keep straight. Just keep following the green paw-print trail markers.
|Along Monte Aman ridge|
|Trail with paw-print marker on left side|
Sometimes the serpentines wind ridiculously back and forth, taking 50 meters of running to go down 2 meters in height. Other times, the trail is ridiculously steep, and you can only take slow, baby-steps going down the almost vertical, slippery clay. When you reach the valley floor, the trail comes to a stream, which you must ford at a shallow spot. There are enough stones, though, to arrive at the other side with dry feet.
|Crossing the stream|
Now turn right and run downhill along Strada del Cartman, back towards Turin, still following the stream on one side of the road. The road is quiet here, lined with little country homes.
|Along Strada del Cartman: country houses with geese and goats|
When Strada del Cartman merges into Strada Mongreno, the neighborhood becomes more urban, with apartment houses lining the street, and more traffic. But to make it nicer, there's also a fresh water fountain next to the sidewalk at one spot. Just keep running straight downhill along Strada Mongreno until you come to a roundabout at Piazza Bande Nere, where you turn right, and run a block to the Superga cog-railroad station again.
Now turn left and run the one block back to Sassi, past the station.