Tourist Tips and Information
Monza, Italy is located on a tributary of the Po River: the Lambro. The city is 15 kilometres north-northeast of Milan in Lombardy. Monza is known for its Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the home of its Grand Prix auto racing circuit. The city is the third largest in Lombardy. It is the most important industrial, economic and administrative centre in Brianza Province, containing both publishing and textile industries. Several offic.es of the regional administration, a Court of Justice, and a Department of the University of Milan Bicocca are also located within the city.
People lived in this area of Italy as far back as the Bronze Age. Originally people lived in settlements built on pilings to insure against river flooding. Gauls had settled in the area around Milan by crossing the Alps and were well established by the third century B.C.E. when Romans ruled Italy. A ruin from that time period remains as a partial bridge. Seen from the "Lion's Bridge" in use today, what is left of the "Arena" bridge can be seen. The Lombard invasion of Italy brought changes to Monza. Autari, the Lombard King, married Theodelinda, the Bavarian ruler's daughter. Eighth century writings tell of her orders to build a small church-Greek-cross "chapel of prayer"-which was the beginning of today's St. John Paul the Deacon basilica. The original chapel's foundation remains beneath the nave and transept of the basilica. Although much reconstruction has taken place throughout history, some 15th century frescoes depicting Theodelinda's life remain as well as a quality relief by Matteo da Campione.
The Villa Reale was originally built for the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria on the banks of the Lambro. This former royal villa lies within the surrounds of Monza Park, one of Europe's largest enclosed parks. Designed by Giuseppe Piermanini and built in the late 1700s, the Villa was originally home to the Archdukes, Presidents of the Cisalpine Republic and finally the Savoy family. This structure became famous for political and cultural events in Lombardy which took place there from the late 18th century until the formation of Italy as a country. The building hasn't been restored in spite of several groups which have tried to fund several projects for that purpose. Only a portion of the building is open to visitors. Upon entering, a Rotunda to the left joins the Villa to a large glasshouse. Frescoes by Andrea Appiani ornately decorate the Rotunda. Also to the left resides a small theatre which recently recaptured its original splendor. Other beautiful villas in the city are Mirabello, Mirabellino, Prata, Crivelli Mesmer, Durini, Calloni, Archinto Pennati, and Villa Carminati-Ferrario. Visitors can spend several days enjoying the exteriors and interiors of these fantastic old residences.
Monza is most famous as the home of the Italian Grand Prix. The international motor racing circuit takes place at the Autodromo Nazionnale Monza. The circuit is entirely surrounded by the "Parco di Monza," which is double the size of New York's Central Park. Monza Park was created in the city in the early 1800s under orders from the Napoleonic viceroy. This was an extension of the Villa Reale gardens forming a huge estate and hunting grounds for Luigi di Beauharnais. Enlarged even more in the mid-1800s, this park is one of Lombardy's largest green areas, an amazing achievement when one considers it is within a city. The Park covers 800 hectares and includes cultivated sections, mills, farmhouses, villas, and 3 large wooded sections. The Autodromo-one of the first tracks built for racing-was constructed in 1920 and has grown in size within the Park since then. It changed the configuration of Monza Park as 150,000 seats were added on 1 million square metres of land deleting some portions of woodlands. The addition of other facilities for tennis, an equestrian school, and 9 and 18 hole golf courses took away more of the former woodlands, but brought thousands of sporting visitors.
Autodromo di Monza provides the fastest circuit on the Formula 1 calendar despite its being one of the oldest original tracks. The race here is always one of the most popular ones to see. Those who watch for the first time love this raceway as much as those did in the early 1920s. The infamous turns on the course-Curva di Lesmos, Curva Parabolica, and Variante Ascari-require drivers to break quickly while the straights let them run their cars at full throttle. If holiday travellers are able to schedule their trip to include a day at the raceway, it will be the holiday of a lifetime.
The Brianza Open Jazz Festival features both Italian and international artists annually. Holiday travellers can use the day to tour the sights of the city and as the sun sets, spend an evening enjoying some of the world's best jazz musicians. The majority of the concerts at the Festival are free, meaning there is nothing to hinder one's thrill coming from the music.
Choosing Monza as a holiday destination affords a variety of history and activities from which to choose.