best running races in Italy

12 Best Running Races in Italy: Marathons of Scenic Trails

Ciao, fellow running enthusiasts! It’s Max here, embracing my Italian roots with gusto. If you’re looking for the most exhilarating running races in Italy, you’ve sprinted to the right track.

Today, we’ll dash through the picturesque landscapes of Italy, each stride on the marathons and scenic trails unveiling the majestic beauty and historical charm that cradles these prestigious races.

Ready to lace up and explore the spellbinding routes that await in the heartland of culture and athletic fervor? Let’s hit the Italian roads running!

Sprinting Through Time: Uncover Italy’s Splendor One Race at a Time

With every stride by the Colosseum, history races alongside promise.

Lacing up for a race in Italy is stepping into a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural allure. Each running route is more than a track; it’s a narrative of ancient tales amidst a vista of natural artistry, meandering through the heartbeats of Italy’s iconic cities.

Your feet’s rhythmic pattern on cobblestone streets or rustic trails resonates with the old tales and contemporary beats of Italian life.

As we delve into Italy’s remarkable running races, envision yourself sprinting through vineyard-laced hills, alongside serene lakes, and under the gentle gaze of historic edifices.

Get ready to traverse through time and soak in Italy’s beauty, all while chasing the euphoria of the race. Now, let’s embark on this thrilling journey where every mile rewards you with a slice of the country’s enchanting essence.

1. Rome Marathon: A Run Through History

👉 Rome Marathon 2024 Date: March 17, 2024

The Rome Marathon, elegantly titled “Run Rome The Marathon,” is not just a race but a journey through time.

Held annually, this 42.195km marathon sweeps through the awe-inspiring landmarks of Rome, taking runners past the majestic Colosseum, the historic Fori Imperiali, the sanctified grounds of the Vatican, and the grand St. Peter’s Square.

The race takes off and circles back to the Via dei Fori Imperiali, close to the Colosseum, embodying a perfect loop of historical exploration. Thanks to the city’s rich past and awe-inspiring architecture, this running competition is often likened to an expedition in an open-air museum.

Rome Marathon course map
Rome Marathon course map: an expedition in an open-air museum. (Image:

The Rome Marathon proudly holds the “FIDAL Gold Label” and the “IAAF Road Race Silver Label” certifications, marking its standard of excellence.

The marathon has various participation requirements based on nationality, residence, and Athletics Federation membership. It’s a challenge awaiting completion with a time limit of 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Tracing back its roots to 1906 with Dorando Pietri crossing the finish line, the modern rendition of the race kicked off in 1995. The official Rome Marathon website is the go-to platform for a well-rounded insight into the marathon, including registration, course details, and official merchandise.

2. Florence Marathon: A Scenic Sprint Through History

👉 Florence Marathon 2024 Date: November 24, 2024

The Florence Marathon, locally revered as Maratona di Firenze, gracefully unfolds in the heart of Florence, Italy, every November.

Birthed in 1984, this race rapidly blossomed from a modest gathering of 462 runners to an eminent event, boasting over 10,000 sprinters by 2010. Its reputation now gleams as Italy’s second-largest marathon, only surpassed by the Rome City Marathon.

This marathon isn’t merely a race but a 42.195-kilometer-long voyage through time. As runners pace through this course, they’re embraced by Florence’s timeless beauty, with a route that unfurls past this Italian city’s iconic landmarks.

Sprinters will find themselves weaving through the historic Cathedral Square, Piazza della Signoria, and Ponte Vecchio before being ushered into the grandiose Piazza Duomo.

Florence Marathon course map
Florence Marathon course map: a voyage through history. (Image:

The course is a smooth, asphalted stretch with no ramps to hurdle over, save for a gentle slope at the onset, rendering it a favored choice for those seeking a swift, unobstructed run.

Now standing tall among the top 20 marathons globally, the Florence Marathon isn’t just a race but a blend of meticulous organization, escalating participation, and a dash through Florence’s captivating historical scenery.

Every year, this running race, one of the best in Italy, amplifies its allure. It is meticulously organized to cater to an increasing wave of participants yearning for a taste of Florence’s historical charm intertwined with the euphoria of marathon running.

For a deeper dive into the marathon details or to secure a spot in this historic race, check out the official Florence Marathon website.

3. Milan Marathon: A Swift Stride Through Modernity

👉 Milano Marathon 2024 Date: April 7, 2024

Come April, the city of Milan buzzes with the energy of the Milano Marathon, as it’s locally known. Initiated in 2000 by the Milano City Marathon Club, this annual race has become popular, attracting thousands of athletes yearly.

The marathon boasts a modern, fast-paced course that meanders through the heart of Milan, showcasing a mix of the city’s historical charm and contemporary elegance.

Evolving since its overhaul in 2015, the course, starting and ending at Corso Venezia, offers a balanced blend of challenges for elite runners and advanced amateurs.

Milan Marathon course map
Milan Marathon course map: a fast-paced course through the heart of Milan. (Image:

Besides being a loop course, it’s relatively flat with just a minor incline post-start and an underpass encounter, which makes it a favorite for many aiming for personal bests.

The accolade of being the fastest marathon in Italy and notably the fastest globally in 2021 adds a feather to its cap. The Milan Marathon, usually scheduled in April, is set to host its 22nd edition on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

The official Milano Marathon website is a treasure trove of details for comprehensive information on the marathon.

4. Venice Marathon: A Mesmerizing Run Along the Water

👉 Venice Marathon 2024 Date: October 27, 2024

The Venice Marathon, christened the Wizz Air Venicemarathon, is a race that combines athletic challenge with a breathtaking course. It is proud to be part of the illustrious Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Ranking.

The race commences in the picturesque setting of Villa Pisani at Riviera del Brenta. It concludes in the heart of Venice, at Riva dei Sette Martiri, after a captivating journey over a specially constructed floating bridge through St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) by the towering Campanile and the grandeur of Palazzo Ducale.

the Venice Marathon, one of the best running races in Italy
Venice Marathon: combining athletic challenge with breathtaking course. (Image:

The course is relatively flat and fast, with the only challenges being 3-4 short slopes between the 25th and 35th kilometers and, in the final stretch, 14 quaint little bridges over the Venetian canals, which are equipped with wooden ramps to ease the runners’ passage.

This marathon offers a run as well as a cultural expedition through 18th-century mansions along the Riviera del Brenta, a 2-km-long embankment along the water next to the Giudecca Canal, and a 170-meter-long bridge over the Grand Canal, assembled exclusively for the marathon.

As runners approach the finish line, they relish the historic vibes of Piazza San Marco and Palazzo Ducale before ending their marathon journey at the scenic waterfront of St. Mark’s Basin at Riva Sette Martiri.

For more information or to register, visit their official website.

5. Chianti Classico Marathon: A Run Amidst Vintage Vistas

👉 Chianti Classico Marathon 2024 Date: May 12, 2024

The Chianti Classico Marathon unfolds in the picturesque realm of Florentine Chianti Classico, offering runners a chance to tread through Italy’s iconic soft hills, basking in a milieu rich with history and passion.

This marathon is not merely a race but a narrative that echoes through Tuscany’s timeless vineyards and historic settlements.

This running race route is a poetic journey through Italy, leading runners past modern yet rustic Antinori Cellars, the sacred grounds of the ancient Abbey of Badia a Passignano, through the historic heart of Greve in Chianti, the quaint medieval charm of Montefioralle village, and the majestic Verrazzano and Gabbiano Castles.

Chianti Classico Marathon
Chianti Classico Marathon: a poetic journey through Tuscany. (Image: Chianti Classico Marathon YouTube)

This course is a dialogue between the past and the present, set against the backdrop of Tuscany’s natural splendor.

Offering a spectrum of challenges, the Chianti Classico Marathon comes in three distinct flavors: a 10 km race for a swift run, a half marathon (21 km) for a more enduring challenge, and an ultra trail (45 km) with a hilly terrain featuring an elevation gain of 1423 meters for those seeking a rugged adventure.

Participants are rewarded with a finisher medal, event T-shirts, and, more importantly, they receive a bottle of Chianti Classico wine as part of their race package. For further details or to register, visit the official Chianti Classico Marathon website.

6. Lago Maggiore Marathon: A Panoramic Run by the Lake

👉 Lago Maggiore Marathon 2024 Date: November 3, 2024

Breathing the crisp November air, runners at the Lago Maggiore Marathon are treated to a scenic spectacle along the tranquil shores of Lake Maggiore.

Held on the picturesque Piedmont side of the lake, this marathon celebrates nature’s calm, earning a reputation as one of the most panoramic races globally.

The marathon offers a variety of race distances catering to a broad spectrum of runners. From a full marathon (42.195 Km), a unique 33-kilometer race, a half marathon (21.1 Km) to a 10-kilometer run, there’s a distance for every ambition.

The marathon’s course, beginning in Arona and culminating in Verbania, is more than a race. It’s a harmonious rhythm of nature and human endeavor.

Known for its fast course with subtle hilly stretches, the Lago Maggiore Marathon is where many runners have outdone themselves, setting personal best times amidst the serene ambiance. 

The official Lago Maggiore Marathon website is a comprehensive resource for a deeper dive into the marathon details, registration process, and race schedules.

7. Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon: A Romantic Run Through Verona

👉 Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon 2024 Date: February 11, 2024

The Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon celebrates love, art, and endurance in the beautiful city of Verona, Italy. Renowned as the poetic backdrop to Shakespeare’s tragic love tale, Verona opens its charming streets every February for this unique running event.

Embarking on this marathon is akin to traversing through a blend of romantic lore and rich Italian culture, a concept that attracted the prestigious designation as the venue for the Italian Championship in 2014 and 2020.

best running races in Italy: Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon
Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon: fall in love in Verona. (Image: Romeo & Giulietta Run website)

The marathon’s course is a fast-paced journey through the very heart of Verona, embracing the serene river banks and bustling city streets. Starting at Palasport di Verona and culminating at Piazza Bra, runners whisk past iconic landmarks like the iconic Arena di Verona.

The event presents various race options for diverse athletic aptitudes, including a half marathon (21.1 km), a relay race (11+10k), and a 5k run or walk.

With over 5,000 half marathon runners and 500 relay teams typically gracing the event, the Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon is a testament to enduring camaraderie and the timeless allure of Verona.

For more information or to register, visit the official Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon website.

8. Napoli City Half Marathon: A Scenic Sprint Through Naples

👉 Napoli City Half Marathon 2024 Date: February 25, 2024

Napoli City Half Marathon is not merely a race but an invitation to experience the picturesque streets of Naples, with the Mediterranean’s soothing great views as your companion.

The marathon unfolds a fast-paced loop course through Naples’ heart, encompassing the beautiful Promenade and the vibrant Old Town under typically mild temperatures of around 13°C, making it a delightful run.

This marathon is a gateway to explore Naples’ UNESCO World Heritage historic center, all while indulging in a festive atmosphere enriched with music and entertainment for families.

The global appeal of this marathon is evident from its diverse participation, with the last edition witnessing 6,000 runners from 61 countries.

Napoli City Half Marathon
Napoli City Half Marathon (Image:

Organized by the passionate Napoli Running team, under the motto “All Runners Are Beautiful,” the event also extends a non-competitive Relay Race and a heartwarming “Family Run & Friends” event, a 2 km race with a charitable intent, welcoming everyone to partake.

The Napoli City Half Marathon is recognized with a Bronze Label from World Athletics, a 5-star quality race acknowledgment from European Athletics, and a Gold Label race from FIDAL, underscoring the event’s quality and organizational excellence.

The official Napoli City Half Marathon website is your go-to platform for registration and further details.

9. Roma Ostia Half Marathon: A Swift Race from Rome to Ostia

👉 Roma Ostia Half Marathon 2024 Date: March 3, 2024

The Roma-Ostia Half Marathon, held annually in Rome, Italy, is traditionally orchestrated in the early brisk days of March.

Established in 1974, this prestigious race in Italy has become a staple in the running community. It showcases a mostly flat and swift course that begins in Rome’s EUR district and culminates near the tranquil beaches of Ostia.

This race embodies athletic diversity, featuring an elite-level race, a delightful fun run for amateur enthusiasts, and a competitive “Business Run” where teams from various domestic companies vie for the Italian Business Championships in the Half Marathon.

The course, known for its point-to-point format, has seen some editions benefit from an overall downhill drop and athlete-assisting tailwinds. However, this made specific performances ineligible for records or personal bests.

This prompted a significant course alteration in 2011 to foster faster times and record performances. The men’s course record is a blazing 58:02 by Sabastian Sawe, and the women’s course record stands at an impressive 1:06:03 by Irene Kimais, both achieved in 2022.

For more information and registration details or to explore the history of the Roma Ostia Half Marathon, visit the race’s official website.

10. Turin Marathon: A Historic Run Through Italy’s First Capital

Torino City Marathon: a voyage through time. (Video: Daniele Lince)

👉 Turin Marathon 2024 Date: November 3, 2024

The Turin Marathon, celebrated as the Torino City Marathon, is a cherished annual event that graces the streets of Turin, Italy, every November. This running race’s scenic journey begins and culminates in the city’s heart at Piazza Castello, encapsulating the essence of Turin in a riveting looped circuit.

As marathoners pace through the course, they step outside the urban contours into the quaint ambiance of surrounding villages. The route unfolds through Moncalieri, Nichelino, Beinasco, Orbassano, Rivalta, Rivoli, and Collegno, each locale adding flavor to the marathon’s journey.

But this marathon is more than just a race; it’s a voyage through time, caressing Turin’s rich tapestry of history.

runners at the Torino City Marathon
Turin Marathon (Image:

As the former capital of Italy and the home to the House of Savoy, Turin’s marathon route is a narrative of the city’s illustrious past and its march towards innovation, symbolized by landmarks like Lingotto and the iconic Fiat factory.

Divided into competitive and non-competitive segments, the marathon celebrates athletic prowess with accolades for standout performances in both men’s and women’s categories.

The official Torino City Marathon website is the go-to resource for a more thorough understanding of the marathon or for registering.

11. Bologna Half Marathon: A Historical Run Through Bologna’s Architectural Wonders

👉 Bologna Half Marathon 2024 Date: March 3, 2024

Known also as the Move Run Tune Up Half Marathon, this race is a revered event that offers runners a chance to sprint through the heart of Bologna, Italy, surrounded by rich history and captivating architecture.

The race is a circular journey starting and ending at Piazza Maggiore, passing through some of Europe’s most extensive and splendid porticoes along with Bologna’s treasured historic sites.

Bologna Half Marathon view from Piazza Maggiore
Bologna Half Marathon, starting and ending in Piazza Maggiore (Image:

The organizers, the Bologna Marathon team, who also host the Bologna Marathon and the “30 Km dei Portici“, ensure a well-orchestrated event that celebrates both the athletic spirit and the cultural essence of Bologna.

The Bologna Half Marathon presents a competitive platform for runners and a visually enriching route that encapsulates the essence of Bologna’s past.

For those interested in participating or learning more about this event, the official website is a comprehensive resource for registration details, event rules, and a glimpse into past editions.

12. Mugello Marathon: A Historic Run Through Tuscan Beauty

👉 Mugello Marathon 2024 Date: September 29, 2024

Originating in 1974, the Mugello Marathon, or Maratona del Mugello, is considered Italy’s oldest marathon. Initiated by a group of running enthusiasts from Borgo San Lorenzo, this marathon has been a staple in the Italian running calendar.

Set in the serene Mugello valley, just a stone’s throw from Florence yet nestled in the authentic Tuscan countryside, the race offers a visual feast of vineyards, olive groves, and quaint medieval and Renaissance villages like Scarperia along the route.

The marathon commences and concludes at Piazza Dante in Borgo San Lorenzo, making it a wholesome loop through Tuscany’s rustic beauty.

Besides the full marathon, the event also caters to a broader range of runners by offering a half marathon and a Family Run, ensuring everyone gets a slice of the running experience.

This Italian marathon encapsulates the spirit of community and the love for running amidst a historically rich and naturally beautiful backdrop.

The official Mugello Marathon website is a great resource for gaining a deeper insight into the marathon or registering.

Before You Go

Italy’s fervor extends beyond the marathon track into a realm of vibrant sporting traditions. Dive into our guide on the most popular sports in Italy to discover how Italy’s athletic culture mesmerizes locals and visitors alike.

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