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MORE THAN JUST FORMULA 1
The city of Monza is located 20 km from the centre of Milan in the North of Italy. I stopped by to check it out whilst driving in Italy, from Lake Como. What I soon realised was that there is so much more to Monza than just being famous for hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Monza is a gorgeous small city, that has a more relaxed vibe than the big cities of Italy, like Venice or Rome. There are some amazing things to see in Monza which you should visit if you’re passing through. Here are the 5 main sites I recommend which can easily be visited all in one day.
1. Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix Track
Those of you that are racing afficionados would know that the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix is held here in Monza every September. This is the highlight of the Formula 1 GP calendar for many enthusiasts, especially Italian Ferrari fans.
The track is called the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and is one of the most notorious tracks on the circuit. It is known as ‘the temple of speed’ and is claimed to be the fastest track on the GP circuit. Sadly, drivers and spectators have died here in the past.
It is also one of the oldest circuits in the world, running since 1922.
Interesting fact: No track in the world has held more Grand Prix races than Monza.
The Grand Prix track is located in the middle of the massive Monza Park estate. The track cuts through the trees making it one of the most scenic track locations on the F1 circuit.
You can visit the Grand Prix track and feel the buzz, even if you don’t go to the event itself.
Many other racing events, including the Motorcycle Grand Prix, are also held here.
2. Monza Park
The Parco di Monza is the largest city park in the whole of Europe. In fact it is also twice the size of New York Central Park. Can you believe it?! It is an enormous green jewel that attracts people for many different leisure activities.
Amongst this 700 hectare parkland is the Lambro River. Also, you will find a lovely pond, farmhouses, old mills, woods, picnic areas, playgrounds, bike and scooter rental. And mansions!
By far the most impressive aspect of this park, in my opinion, is the huge historic palace on its grounds.
3. Villa Reale
An enormous palace to rival the Palace of Versailles in France sits majestically in the Monza Park. It is called the Villa Reale (Royal Villa) and was built for the Austrian royal family in 1780 as a Summer Palace, when the region was under Austrian rule.
It is neoclassical in style and a magnificent monument to see in Monza. Events and weddings are held here at this opulent location, which has been beautifully renovated in recent years.
If you wish to visit the Royal Villa, check here for all the details and book online.
Inside you can see the magnificent royal apartments as they once were. You will be able to appreciate the art and frescoes, the Carrara marble, the grand staircase and ballroom, the chandeliers, the royal furniture and more. All 3 levels have areas open to the public.
Note: It is closed on Sundays.
Other villas reside in the park too. The oldest building in Monza Park is Villa Mirabello, built in the 17th century with neoclassical and baroque features.
4. Cathedral of Monza
Monza has several churches, of course, but the Duomo di Monza is the main cathedral. Known as Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, it is stunning. This current church dates from the 13th century and is of Italian Gothic style with a marble facade. The Bell Tower was built later in the 15th century.
Inside, as you would expect, the church is painted in frescoes which date from the 14th century.
You can visit the Monza Cathedral Museum here and see the famous gold, Byzantine Royal Crown, Coronna del Ferro. Thought to have been made in the 4th or 5th century out of gold and precious gems, it was used to crown Italian Kings and later Napoleon. Then, it became the symbol of the Kingdom of Italy.
Interesting trivia: The Iron Crown doesn’t actually contain any iron.
This building is the old town hall of Monza, built in 1293. It would have to be the most recognisable landmark of the city, other than the F1 track, and is centrally located, in Piazza Roma. Now it is used as a gallery and markets are held below.
Other things to see in Monza
Wander around the town and see,
- the main square called Piazza Trento e Trieste,
- the grand building of the Monza Town Hall called the Palazzo Communale,
- statue of the Fallen Soldiers, and
- Ponte dei Leoni (Bridge of Lions) is the famous bridge here in Monza which crosses the Lambro River.
So, be sure to add a stop in Monza to your itinerary when driving through the north of Italy.