Only 10 minutes by train from Milan, and on the way to Lake Como, the bustling small town of Monza is a great escape from the big city. I lived in Monza as an exchange student in high school and made lifelong friends that I see regularly to this day. Here are my recommendations on what to do in Monza Italy.
As with many Italian cities, it’s best to arrive in Monza by train and then get around on foot. Take the train to Monza (just 10 minutes from Milan!). Walk from the train station, through the historic center, to the park, and back to the train station. This circuit, with no stops, is about 2 hours of walking. Stop in the shops and visit the sights below. Stop for a coffee, a gelato, and make sure to spend some time people-watching.
Monza’s gorgeous Romanesque-Gothic Duomo or main church has foundations dating to about the year 600. The museum inside is wonderful, and houses the city’s most famous treasure: the Iron Crown, allegedly made with one of the nails from the crucifixion.
You can’t miss the city’s landmark, called the arengario, which is a historic structure built in the 14th century and was used as the town hall. It’s worth the 2-block detour to walk over the pretty Bridge of Lions or Ponte dei Leoni, seen in the photo with the church bell tower in the background.
Parco di Monza
There’s a giant park in Monza. It’s impossible to visit the entire park during a one day visit to Monza, but make time short walk. We recommend a stroll, a run, a bike ride or even bring a picnic. Or, take the kids on the merry-go-round. If you’re in Monza on a Sunday, you’ll see that Italian families going for a walk after church, looking their Sunday best. This park is twice as big as New York’s central park so consider renting bikes for a couple of hours to visit the park. And, use common sense and don’t go after dark.
Villa Reale (Royal Villa)
Admire the gardens and architecture of the Villa Reale (photo above), a summer palace built in the park in the 18th century by the Royal Hapsburg family of Austria. The Villa Reale is open daily except closed on Mondays, and visitors can see the apartments and the grounds inside. The English signage isn’t a perfect translation, therefore, we recommend getting the audioguide. In addition, if you’re there in the summertime bring bug spray, and check the fireworks schedule since the summer fireworks shows are spectacular.
Visit the Formula One Track
The town of Monza might be most famous for its Formula One racetrack, which is also in the huge Parco di Monza. The track was built in 1922 and has seen many iconic races and unfortunately, iconic accidents. The Italians call it La pista magica, the magic track. It is possible to book a tourist experience on the Monza track, but note that these experiences are somewhat limited as the track is booked with events almost year-round.
Looking for other options for a quick getaway from the city? Check out these great day trips from Milan.
Photo of Villa Reale from www.istockphoto.com
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