Milan’s appeal is obvious – great restaurants, trendy bars, gorgeous architecture, and friendly people. But if a few days in the city leaves you looking for the nearest exit, you’re in luck. Monza is easily reached by train in just 10 minutes…and don’t worry, there’s more to this great city than its famous Formula 1 circuit.
Perfectly located as a commuter town for locals and a day trip destination for tourists, Monza’s charm abounds. And although it’s just a stone’s throw from Milan, this quaint city feels like it’s worlds away from the hustle and bustle.
Sightseeing for dummies
Arriving in Monza as a tourist is incredibly easy, as the city has created three routes which take visitors on a tour of the most popular attractions. A sign of the choices – river route, religious route, and historic route – sits in front of the train station. Each route is color-coded (blue, yellow, red) and easy to follow.
If the remains of an ancient Roman bridge interest you, pick the river route. If the elaborate detailing of Italy’s churches leaves you in awe, the religious route is for you.
History buffs should choose the corresponding route, which will take them past a 13th century medieval tower. Or, if you’re more adventurous, make your own à la carte itinerary using suggestions from each route.
Something for everyone
Monza’s winding streets are whatever you want them to be. If you want high street shops, you’ve got it. If you want Italy’s La Rinascente department store, look no further. But if you have your sights set on independent wine and cheese shops and butchers who know their customers by name, you can find that too.
Wander around the city and you’ll stumble upon an abundance of restaurants. There are plenty of scenes fit for a postcard, so bring your camera and snap away.
A breath of fresh air
If you find yourself in Monza because you felt the urge to escape Milan, you’ll want to visit the city park for a dose of Mother Nature. It’s a bit of a walk from the train station, but well worth it. Established in 1805 under the order of Napoleon, Parco di Monza was once a game reserve. It’s lined with gorgeous trees, making it feel more like a countryside pasture than a patch of city green.
Inside the park is Villa Reale, a former royal palace. Although it no longer houses kings and queens, it can house you – at least for a drink or dinner – inside its café, bar, and restaurant.
Need for speed
Fans of motorsport shouldn’t miss the Autodromo Nazionale, which hosts the Italian Grand Prix each year. See what it’s like to race around the track like the pros, or choose to participate in a number of two-wheeled events of both the motorcycle and bicycle variety.
But if motorsport makes you want to yawn, turn up at the circuit during one of the many entertainment events hosted at the track, including the annual New Year’s Eve bash.
Trains to Monza depart from Milan’s Central Station, Garibaldi, and Greco Pirelli. Travel times vary, but certain regional trains can get you to the city in just 10 minutes. Check out the Trenitalia website for times and prices.