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Il Tempio Monza: Italian Grand Prix Travel Guide

Blisteringly fast and bursting with emotion, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza is one of the hottest Formula 1 races of the season. 

From its gorgeous location in a royal park, to over a century of history, it’s clear to see why the F1 Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is universally hailed as one of the greatest. 

Let’s explore this iconic race and location with our Italian Grand Prix travel guide. 

A huge walled garden and the grand Villa Reale in the middle of Monza, Italy.

Is it worth visiting Monza? What are some good things to do?

The city of Monza may be synonymous with the Italian Grand Prix, yet this beautiful area of Italy has more to offer than just its racing prestige. Expect an abundance of Italian history, magnificent architecture, rich cuisine and verdant green space.

When in the heart of the city, you must visit the Duomo di Monza. This immense gothic cathedral boasts remarkable Renaissance frescos and gorgeous attention-to-detail both inside and out, and will certainly quench your thirst for Italian art and history.

Nearby, you can enjoy a chilled day at the Parco di Monza, which is Europe’s largest walled park. With an incredible 688 hectares to explore, including a selection of pleasant walking trails, large lawns for sunbathing, and several historic villas – the palatial Villa Reale is a particular highlight and guided tours are available.

This huge royal park is also home to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, which will need no introduction to motorsport fans. 

Of course, if motorsports are the main reason you are in town, then you cannot miss a visit to the Museo della Velocità (Museum of Speed). This modern multisensory museum offers authentic Italian Grand Prix facts, history and memorabilia from over the decades, as well as a range of nifty multimedia experiences.

What town is Monza near?

The Monza racetrack is a stone’s throw from the city of Monza, in the beautiful northern Italian region of Lombardy.

Monza is also quite close to the breathtaking Swiss Alps and the famous Italian lakes (Garda and Como), as well as the region’s biggest metropolitan city, Milan – the ideal destination for culture, art and fashion.

Whether you want to enjoy a show at La Scala or you’re in the market for a new Italian tailored suit, regular trains run between Monza and Milan and can take just 9 minutes.

Where do you fly into for the Italian Grand Prix?

The best place to fly into for Monza is Milan – a city boasting three airports: Linate, Malpensa, and Bergamo.

All three offer relatively simple ways to reach Monza and the Autodromo, yet the closest and most convenient is Linate, which is just 8 km (around 5 miles) from Milan and around 30 km (18 miles) from the Autodromo. This translates to roughly a 30-minute drive from the airport to the racetrack.

However, if you are coming from outside Europe, you are more likely to fly into Milan Malpensa, which is around 40 km from the centre of Milan and 60km from the Autodromo — around one hour’s drive.

An aerial view of Monza racetrack in Italy with green lawns and trees inside the oval tarmac.

What makes Monza so special?

The city and race track of Monza hold a special place in the hearts of Formula 1 fans and for very good reason.

Firstly, it exudes history and racing pedigree.

Set in gorgeous parkland, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza first opened in September 1922 as the world’s third purpose-built racetrack. Later that month, Monza hosted its first Italian Grand Prix. 

In 1950, when the Formula 1 World Championship was created, Monza became the official home of the F1 IGP. Aside from a year of refurbishment in 1980, it has hosted this adored race every season since.

It may come as no surprise that Monza also claims the title of holding the most F1 Grands Prix in history, with 72 races. The famous street circuit at Monaco comes a close second with 68 F1 Grand Prix races.

Monza is also special because of its sensational speed. It’s the fastest F1 track on the calendar, with speeds averaging 264 km/h (164 mph) and a white-knuckle 354 km/h (220 mph) straight. The Temple of Speed certainly earns its nickname!

Finally, Monza is the home of Ferrari and the Ferrari tifosi – F1’s most impassioned fans. The grandstands on race day are a sight to behold. If you are a neutral, then hope for a Ferrari victory as the pit lane invasion complete with red flares is a captivating sight.

A Ferrari win last happened in 2019, when Charles Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to take the chequered flag at Monza since Fernando Alonso’s victory in 2010.

What are the famous corners at Monza?

The blistering straights of Monza truly set this circuit apart, yet the eleven corners offer plenty of high-speed action too.

Soon after lights out, drivers will face the thrilling third corner, Curva Grande, sailing through this sweeping curve at full throttle. Then comes the Variante della Roggia (4 and 5); a left-to-right chicane and an excellent overtaking spot.

This is shortly followed by Curva di Lesmo – a challenging duo of corners (6 and 7) that will punish mistakes and leave over-eager drivers spinning in the gravel – then the Variante Ascari (8, 9 and 10), which is a famous high-speed chicane that leads into the final section of the track.

The most famous corner at Monza is the Curva Parabolica – the ferociously fast final corner that leads into the pit lane straight. In 2021, the turn was officially renamed the Curva Alboreto in honour of the Italian racing stalwart Michele Alboreto, although it will always be referred to as Parabolica by the F1 faithful.

An elegant tall wine glass being filled with red wine by a waiter.

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

What food is Monza famous for?

Like many cities in northern Italy, Monza is brimming with culinary delights and no visit to this wonderful area is complete without a little indulgence.

Considering that Lombardy is scattered with rice fields, the dish of the region is understandably creamy risotto. Monza has its own signature variation, risotto alla monzese – a delicate dish made with luganega sausage and saffron.

This should be followed by a slice of torta paesana, which is a delicious ‘village cake’ made using stale bread soaked in milk, then flavoured with cocoa, pine nuts, raisins and candied fruit. On that note, on the approach to Christmas, you can pick up some authentic panettone, a world-famous sweet bread that hails from the region.

Monza is also a great place to enjoy many fine Lombardy wines. For example, Valtellina, made with Nebbiolo grapes, is a bright red wine with notes of dried cherry and rose, while the sparkling Franciacorta, hailing from nearby Brescia, is worth a glass (or three).

A huge crowd celebrating on the race track with flags waving and red smoke clouds rising at Monza, Italy.

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

Italian Grand Prix spectator tips

It’s difficult to find a bad spot to watch the race at Monza, but some areas do offer superior views, depending on what you want to see.

Naturally, the grandstands on the home straight are the first to sell out. If you have the option, the Centrale Grandstand (1) and Laterale Destra (26) are particular favourites of ours and put you in the heart of the tifosi, podium celebrations and legendary track invasions.

The grandstands surrounding the Curva Parabolica (stands 21 to 23) are also perfect for some drama as cars whip out of this high-speed final corner. Stand 23, which is near the pit lane entrance, offers views of both the final corner and the finish line, so you are likely to see a lot of action here.

A tip here is to take a cushion with you as the majority of grandstand seats are made of concrete or steel and notoriously uncomfortable. Of course, you may also prefer to enjoy watching the race with us from the comfort of the Champions Club or Paddock Club suites.

Should you opt for general admission tickets, you won’t have designated seating, but many corners around the track offer excellent views. However, you should be prepared to cover a lot of ground on foot and arrive early as the best spots fill up fast.

What’s the weather like in Monza in September?

As summer turns to autumn, the weather in Monza in September is often still quite pleasant, with the average daytime temperature coming in at around 22°C. However, rain can also be expected at this time of the year.

It’s worth checking the weather forecast before spending a day at the Autodromo, and we suggest coming prepared for all scenarios with a hat, rain jacket, small umbrella, sunscreen and sunglasses. This is particularly important if you are in general admission or are sitting in an uncovered grandstand.

Black and white image of vintage Formula 1 cars as they race off the line leaving clouds of smoke behind.


Italian Grand Prix facts and history

With the Italian Grand Prix’s long and storied history, it’s no surprise there’s an abundance of interesting facts and trivia about Monza. Here are some of our favourites.

#1 – It’s the fifth-oldest Grand Prix race in the world…

With its inaugural race in 1921 at nearby Montichiari, the Italian Grand Prix was the fifth national Grand Prix to be held. Its place on the list comes after the French, United States, Spanish and Russian GPs.

#2 – …and it’s the most-held Grand Prix race in history

Although it’s not the oldest, the Italian Grand Prix is the most held Grand Prix in history, with 92 editions across multiple locations across Italy since 1921. In 2023, the Italian Grand Prix will celebrate its 93rd anniversary.

#3 – It’s taken place in multiple venues

The Italian Grand Prix has been hosted at various Italian tracks, including Montichiari, Livorno, Milan, Turin and Imola. However, since 1949, the Italian Grand Prix’s true home is Monza, which will continue to host the event until at least 2025.

#4 – It’s the shortest race on the calendar

Monza is usually the shortest race on the F1 calendar, with 53 laps of its 5.793km circuit. It holds the record for being the shortest race to reach full distance when, in 2003, Michael Schumacher crossed the line in a brisk 1 hour 14 minutes. 

#5 – It was home to the closest finish in F1 history

In 1972, Monza hosted a thrilling Italian Grand Prix where the race winner Peter Gethin, driving for BRM, finished 0.01 seconds ahead of second-placed Ronnie Peterson. In fact, the top five finishers that day were separated by a razor-fine margin of 0.61 seconds. Monza is no stranger to close finishes, with the earlier 1969 Italian Grand Prix during which Jackie Stewart beat Jochen Rindt by just 0.08 seconds.

Why is Monza called the ‘Temple of Speed’?

Monza truly earns its nickname ‘the Temple of Speed’ because it’s an intensely fast course. Drivers will go at full throttle for around 80% of the race and hit jaw-dropping speeds along the home straight. Even though the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix threatens to pip Monza for top speeds, Monza will always be known as the Temple of Speed.

A group of four Ultimate Driving Tours guests in smart casual dress enjoying the hospitality at Monza.

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

Visit Monza as part of a luxury adventure with Ultimate Driving Tours

Experience the excitement of Monza and join us for our exclusive Italian Grand Prix hospitality package in 2023. 

Enjoy this legendary race in true style with magnificent views of the home straight, gourmet catering, a premium bar and live entertainment. Have questions? Send us a message — we’d love to hear from you.

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