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.
Monza is a city and comune on the River Lambro, a tributary of the Po in the Lombardy region of Italy, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) north-northeast of Milan. It is the capital of the Province of Monza and Brianza.
Monza is best known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, which hosts the Formula One Italian Grand Prix with a massive Italian support tifosi for the Ferrari team.
Monza is the third-largest city of Lombardy and is the most important economic, industrial and administrative centre of the Brianza area, supporting a textile industry and a publishing trade.
Monza is the perfect example of a small Italian city that almost sounds too good to be true.
Monza also hosts a Department of the University of Milan Bicocca, a Court of Justice and several offices of regional administration. Monza Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe.
In the course of its history Monza withstood thirty-two sieges, but the Porta d’Agrate is all that remains of its original walls and fortifications. Nearby is the nunnery in which the Nun of Monza was enclosed in Manzoni‘s I Promessi Sposi.
Monza is known for its Romanesque–Gothic style Cathedral of Saint John (Duomo). The black and-white marble arcaded façade was erected in the mid-14th century by Matteo da Campione. The campanile was erected in 1606 to designs by Pellegrino Tibaldi.
The cathedral encloses the Chapel of Theodelinda, a centrally-planned Greek-cross oraculum (“chapel of prayer”) dated to circa 595. The foundations remain under the crossing of nave and transept, but at the close of the 13th century the chapel was enlarged by enclosing the former atrium within the building.
The frescoed chapel houses the Iron Crown of Lombardy, said to include one of the nails used at the Crucifixion of Jesus. The treasury 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. Though the interior has suffered changes, there is a fine relief by Matteo da Campione representing a royal Lombard coronation, and some 15th-century frescoes with scenes from the life of Theodelinda.
The historical centre also include the following buildings:
- Santa Maria in Strada: a medieval church with a rich terra-cotta façade (1393)
- Broletto or Arengario: the 14th-century palace of the civic commune, raised on an arcade of pointed arches, with a tall square machiolated tower terminating in a sharp central cone.
- San Pietro Martire
- Santa Maria delle Grazie: 15th-century church
- Oratory of St. Gregory (17th century)
- Santa Maria al Carrobiolo: 16th-century church
- Expiatory Chapel of Monza(Cappella Espiatoria): Memorial chapel built in 1900 in memory of the assassinated King Umberto I of Italy
- Royal Villa: Villa built during the period of Austrian rule in the Duchy of Milan.
- Monza Park and the gardens of the Royal Palace are among the largest in Europe to be enclosed by walls. The park has an area of approximately 685 hectares (1693 acres) and is located in the northern part of the city, between the towns of Lesmo, Villasanta, Vedano al Lambro and Biassono.
Culture and education
The cuisine of Monza is typical of Insubria and Brianza. It is linked to culinary traditions and the bond with the nearby areas, especially with the Milanese cuisine. Typical dishes are cassoeula, the buseca, risotto and sausage.
The Duomo’s (Cathedral) Museum collection is home to early medieval treasures from the time of Queen Theodelinda, including the gilt silver “Hen with Chicks”, the Cross of Agilulf, and the Iron Crown; there are also pieces from the late medieval, modern and contemporary ages.
Theatres and cinemas
Theatre in the city include the Teatro Manzoni, the Teatro Villoresi, the Teatro Binario 7. Cinemas include the Sala San Carlo, the AreaOdeon, the Cinema Capitol, the Cinema Metropol and the Cinema Teodolinda.