When people think of Monza, they are likely to think of the famous Formula 1 Grand Prix held here every year – this delightful city has a lot to offer and is a great tourist destination in its own right. Monza is actually located 9 miles northeast of Milan and is the capital of the province of Monza and Brianza, with a population of about 120,000.
The discovery of Rome dates back to the settlement of Monza in the 3rd century BC, and the city has played an important role in Italian history ever since. Monza was actually used as the summer residence of the Queen of Lombardy, and was also regularly used as a military headquarters. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city was embroiled in various factional feuds, and in modern times, the city became an economic and industrial center.
While many may think that Milan eclipses this small city, Monza should never be overlooked – it has some absolutely sublime historic buildings such as the Duomo and the Leoni Bridge, but it also has the massive Parco di Monza , and of course the famous Formula One circuit.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Monza:
1. Monza Cathedral
Undoubtedly the most beautiful religious building in Monza, this massive cathedral is a true gem of Italian Gothic architecture.
Built in 1300 but not completed until 1681, the basilica has a facade similar to that of the famous Florence Cathedral, with coloured marble panels to add colour to the structure.
The front façade stands out, with a green and white striped pattern and several ornate round windows – the most striking window being the rose window, surrounded by a series of small marble sculptures and rose reliefs.
Inside the cathedral, you’ll find a higher level of detail, with stucco artwork and Renaissance frescoes adorning the ceiling and columns.
Finally, Theodelinda Chapel presents some stunning artwork from Zavatari, dedicated to the Queen of Lombardy.
2. Monza Park
The largest walled park in Europe, Parco di Monza, covering 688 hectares, is a true gem of the city.
Created by Napoleon’s stepson during the French occupation of Italy in the 19th century, this epic park was originally an extension of the Royal Palace.
In the park you can find a variety of historic villas including Cascina Frutteto, Cascina San Fedele and the luxurious Villa Mirabello.
In addition, the park has expansive open lawns ideal for sunbathing and ball games.
In addition, there are large forests with walking trails.
Don’t forget to stroll along the Rambro River, passing through the beautiful Ponte Delle Catene.
3. Monza National Circuit
This is one of the main reasons people visit Monza – to see the historic Autodromo and the race track.
Created in 1922, it is one of the oldest dedicated circuits and has hosted the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix since the beginning of the championship.
This impressive complex features the main Forum track with dedicated seating, as well as an oval time trial track covering 4.25km of road with sloping curves.
Even if you’re not a motorsports fan, no trip to Monza would be complete without a visit to this historic circuit while exploring the Parco di Monza grounds.
4. Royal Villa
The Royal Villa of Monza is located in the western part of Monza Park and was the original reason for the creation of the park and was used as the residence of the Italian Governor Eugene de Beauharnais.
Within this palatial complex are the Royal Chapel, the Teatrino di Cotre, the Orangery and the Royal Apartments.
The main building is impressive, with the central structure having two protruding arms – in front of the palace is a large pond and fountain.
Also, the garden is well laid out with many different varieties of flowers and plants.
Take a guided tour of the cabin and grounds and gain insight into the history of this important residence.
The historic center of Monza has many interesting buildings that have stood for hundreds of years – one of which is the Palazzo dell Arengario, which was originally used as the town hall.
The building is said to have been inspired by Palazzo Laggio in Milan, which has a large bell tower with a series or ornate arches on the ground floor.
Often covered with ivy and other plants, this porch looks absolutely stunning in the summer.
On the south side of the building there is a loggia, where important lectures will take place.
The Arengario is a marvelous building to admire as you walk through the historic center.
6. Watch the F1 Italian Grand Prix
The Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix is one of the longest-running events in the race – it has been held at Monza every year since 1921, and every year since 1980. This exciting and fast-paced race takes place at the historic Monza Autodromo and spectators from all over the world watch their heroes race around the track at unimaginable speeds.
Witnessing the game in person was a truly wonderful experience and the atmosphere was literally buzzing.
If you’re lucky, you can watch the technicians work on the car, check out the pit lane, or just watch the race from a well-appointed grandstand.
No matter where you watch the race in Autodromo, you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
7. Leoni Bridge
One of the most famous bridges in Monza, this bridge was built in the early 19th century when the military access to Lecco was being built.
Dedicated to the king of the Lombard-Veneto kingdom, the bridge is gorgeous and contains some fantastic design features.
The main part of the bridge is undoubtedly the four marble lions that stand guard at either end of the entrance – these animals are beautifully carved and look serious on the way in.
Looking down from the bridge, you can see a section of the Rambro and some beautiful houses sitting on its banks.
8. Monza Atonement Church
As mentioned earlier, Monza is home to numerous historical sites and monuments, and Monza’s Chapel of Atonement is one such structure, which pays homage to King Humbert I, who was actually murdered there in 1900. This monument/chapel was completed in 1910 by Sacconi founded by Giuseppe. The church is set in beautiful grounds and features a large central column, covered mainly by a large cross.
Various emblems and icons can be found in the chapel representing the royal coat of arms, as well as a bronze statue of the iconic Pieta.
9. Museo e Tesoro del Duomo di Monza
If you visit Monza Cathedral, you must also visit the cathedral’s museums and treasures.
The museum is located behind the epic cathedral, which you can access through the church grounds.
The church’s collection focuses on religious artifacts and the history of the cathedral, and some of the artifacts housed here are absolutely stunning.
Items include the ornate Agilulfo Cross, made of solid gold and set with precious gems, the Ferrea Crown, also set with jewels, and the crown of Theodolinda, Queen of Lombardy in the region.
Also, with many tapestries, chalices, statues and manuscripts, this museum is a must-see for anyone who loves history.
10. Walking tour of the historic center
The historic city centre of Monza spans a vast area thought to be limited to Via Alessandro Manzoni and Via Azzone Visconti.
Within this area you can find most of the important historical sites, and a guided tour of the Old Town is a great way to learn about the city’s history.
From Piazza Trento e Trieste, you can walk to the Cathedral and maybe visit the Civic Museum, after which, consider walking through Ponte de Leoni and then to Piazza San Paolo.
From here you can head north to the Royal Villa and then to the vast Parco di Monza.
11. Go to Milan
Just 9 miles south of Monza is the bustling city of Milan.
This huge city is one of the most popular in Italy and has plenty of attractions to explore.
Transport between Milan city centre and Monza is very good, with regular train services running approximately every 12 minutes.
Milan’s attractions include the stunning Gothic-looking Duomo, Sforza Castle, the upscale Vittorio Emanuele II arcade and the Royal Palace.
Also, for those who love designer stores and high-street brands, Milan is a fantastic place, with streets full of high-end fashion retailers.
12. Trento and Trieste Square
Monza has some beautiful open squares such as Piazzale Roma and Piazza del Duomo, but the most interesting are Trento and Piazza Trieste.
Close to the Cathedral, this square houses the Caduti Monument, dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Great War and throughout Italian military history.
In addition, this square has the impressive Commune di Monza and Palazzo degli Studi.
This square is a great place to explore and a prime area to start a walking tour of the historic city center.
13. Chiesa di Santa Maria in Strada
Many people overlook this church in favor of the fantastic cathedral, but the Church of Santa Maria in Strada is just as beautiful and charming.
Just a few steps from the Cathedral and Piazza del Trieste in Trento and Trieste, this church is one of the oldest in Monza, built in the mid-14th century.
The facade of this church has a wonderful red color and has some interesting designs and stone statues.
Also, on the right hand side is an ornate clock tower.
Inside the church you can find some magnificent artwork on the ceiling and arches as well as various frescoes depicting religious scenes.
14. Taste authentic Italian food at Darmas Restaurant
If you’re looking for a great place to eat in the heart of Monza, look no further – Darmas Restaurant offers a high-quality dining experience, a warm atmosphere and an overall great experience.
This charming restaurant is located just outside the historic city centre, near Corso Milano and Monza train stations.
From the extensive menu, you can choose from a range of pasta and meat dishes, as well as some great appetizers such as breadboard platters.
Dishes include veal, pasta, lasagna and a small amount of seafood, to name a few.
The presentation was great and the dishes looked as good as they tasted.
15. Enjoy a glass of wine at Vineria Dei Tintori Monza
If wine is your favorite, Vineria Dei Tintori Monza is a great place for a quiet evening with a glass or three, fine drinks and good conversation.
This charming bar/restaurant is located by the river, next to the beautiful Ponte de Leoni.
The modern decor is pleasing to the eye, and the hotel has some wonderful little quirks like the wine cork seating.
On the far wall, you’ll see a huge selection of fine wines, and you’ll be free to sample each one.
In addition to a great selection of drinks, there are curated meals and a wide variety of appetizers to help the wine drop!
Where to stay: The best hotels in Monza, Italy
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