by Melinda Gallo published on October 14, 2008
Corri la Vita is an annual gara (race) that takes runners and walkers through some of the most scenic parts of Florence. For the last six years, the organizers of this gara have been raising funds for cancer research. I decided to go for the first time this year to show my support. As the sun was rising from behind the chiesa (church) in Piazza Santa Croce on September 28th, crowds of people wearing sweats, the Corri la Vita T-shirt, running shoes, and their numbers for the gara began to fill the piazza.
It was cool in the shady piazza as I stood in front of the palcoscenico (stage), waiting for Cesare Prandelli, the allenatore (coach) of the Fiorentina, to announce the start of the gara. I wasn't bored while I watched the people in the piazza prepare for the gara. Some were picking up their pacco gara (competitor's gift package), a few were warming up, and some latecomers were crowded around the booth to sign up for the gara. I was surprised to see so many children, even in strollers, and dogs that were getting ready to take part in the gara.
As soon as the shots were fired, the piazza slowly emptied out and the streets became crowded with runners charging ahead and walkers trailing behind. I followed the crowds over Ponte alle Grazie and along the Arno to the Porta San Niccolò. We climbed the rampe (ramps) up toward Piazzale Michelangiolo, through the Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden), and then up to San Salvatore al Monte chiesa. We walked through the cipressi (cypress trees) in the Parco della Rimembranza and then passed below the steps leading to the San Miniato chiesa.
Any time I had the chance, I snuck a peek at the city below to admire the dark orange-colored rooftops and torri (towers) that stood out against the clear blue sky. Some people stopped completely and took pictures of themselves with the centro (downtown) as the backdrop.
Everyone seemed happy to be walking through this part of the city. Most people were in groups chatting, while others were trying to zigzag their way through the crowds. The city streets were quiet: not a single car or motorino (scooter) was allowed to cross our path. All I could hear were people's voices.
We were directed through a wooded path by organizers wearing bright orange vests. We made our way down a few windy roads that then led us to Porta San Miniato. We turned down via dei Renai and crossed the Ponte alle Grazie again. We ended the gara in Piazza Santa Croce after passing under the large yellow inflatable sign that said, "Arrivo (Finish line)."
Sweaty, but happy, participants stretched out in the piazza, while others made a beeline to the bancarelle (stands) for complimentary acqua (water), succo di arancia (orange juice), and frutta (fruit) that had been set up on long white tables.
The piazza had changed in the time since we left it: the sun was shining brightly, and the only shade to be found was on the steps of the chiesa. It was noticeably warmer and even more enjoyable to stay in the thronged piazza. On an early autumn Sunday morning, we were brought together for an important cause, and were generously rewarded with a picturesque tour of Florence.
©2008 Melinda Gallo. Photos by Melinda Gallo.
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