Running in Sicily is a lot like running in the U.S., except when it’s not. First, you have to decide where to run: by the sea? up the mountain? in the river valley?
By the sea:
Very few established paths, and none that link up to create a run of a distance over 6 miles, unless you drive down to the beaches south of Catania. For me, I either have to run down the mountain to the sea (which means running back UP the mountain on the return), or drive up or down the coast to reach the sea.
Up the Mountain:
Great options, as long as I am willing to work for the views…I can go for miles and miles and never get bored with Mt. Etna on the west always beckoning me higher and the Ionian Sea on the east flirting and winking at me until I return home.
In the river valley:
This essentially means running on base or near base to me. Both options are great – on base, there is a loop that can be modified to make a 5-mile, 6-mile, or 7-mile loop. Running along the highway by base is pretty much an out-and-back situation, at least of the routes I know now. On the weekend mornings, there are always packs of bicycles whizzing by and giving friendly encouragement; umbrella girls dot the highway; and Italian drivers whiz by as well.
I find running on the roads here to be slightly more nerve-wracking than in the states, but only by a fraction, and part of that might be due to my perception of safety.
Drivers in the U.S. go out of their way to show you that they see you:
Drivers on Sicily are typically very aware of their surroundings, including just how close they can get to any other object without striking it (the narrow roads, and closely parked cars offer lots of opportunities to learn this lesson), so they don’t bother getting so far away from you:
Sincerely, I am more comfortable with a Sicilian driver passing me so close that I could reach out and touch the vehicle. For all the pazzo (crazy) in the driving over here, Sicilian drivers act predictably and they are much more aware of their surroundings and aware of the size and capability of their vehicle than the average U.S. driver. But, it took some getting used to!
As I adjusted to the Sicilian drivers, I became more comfortable on the roads, by the sea, up the mountain and in the river valley. And, as Jenny Barringer Simpson says, “If you just give yourself a chance and get out the door, your mind and body will surprise you most of the time.”