Visiting Monza, Italy
The city of Monza is located in the Lombardy region of Italy, some 15 km northeast of Milan, on the river Lambro. It is the capital of the Province of “Monza and Brianza,” and it takes only 15 minutes by train to reach Milan.
Monza has long been an important city and its history unfolds over the centuries. Its beginnings date back to the Roman period, during the third century BC, when the Romans subdued Insubres and settled around Mediolanum (now Milan), founding a village on the Lambro. Today we can see the remains of a bridge (named Arena) near the modern Ponte dei Leoni (Lions Bridge). During the Roman Empire the town was known as Modicia.
Another important event in Monza's history was the Lombard invasion of Italy, with the king Autari and the queen Theodelinda. The new queen ordered the construction near the River Lambro of an oraculum, a sort of little church, that today is part of the Romanesque-Gothic Duomo of Saint John, completed in his actual form in the 14th century.
There is also an important legend that Theodelinda, asleep while her husband was hunting, saw in a dream a dove who told her: "Modo," Latin for "here", in order to say that she should build the oraculum in that place, and the queen answered "etiam", meaning "yes." So from the two words "modo" and "etiam," following the legend, derived "Modoetia," the medieval name of Monza. You can make an interesting visit to the frescoed Chapel of Theodolinda, under the Duomo, where you can find the Iron Crown of Lombardy, supposed to contain one of the nails used at the Crucifixion. The treasure also contains the crown, fan and gold comb of Theodelinda, and, as well as Gothic crosses and reliquaries, a golden hen and seven chickens, representing Lombardy and her seven provinces. The historical centre also includes the Arengario, the 14th century palace of civic commune, raised on an arcade of pointed arches, with a tall square tower terminating in a sharp central cone, and the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
A ten minute walk north of Duomo will take you to the Royal Villa. Originally built by Piermarini in 1777, Empress Mary Theresa of Austria gave it as a gift to her nephew the archduke Ferdinand. The surrounding gate enclosed park is the brain child of Napoleon and is the largest of its kind in Europe.
For those looking for modernity, Villa Reale Park offers its International Circuit, where each year a GP of F1 takes place. You can visit the boxes, see the circuit, and if you're lucky, maybe a race. Very impressive is the old circuit, with its two big banked curves, with a radii of 320 meters and super-elevation with slope increasing progressively to 80% in the top band.