Your guide to the best off-track activities near Monza for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix on September 12, including the Alfa Romeo museum and Maranello, home of Ferrari.
Being situated on the outskirts of Milan makes Monza a great Grand Prix to tie in with a city break, and Milan has more than its fair share of culture, history and shopping to offer its visitors. Being the ‘new’ city to Rome’s antiquity doesn’t mean that Milan’s short on sightseeing options. If you can spare some extra time before or after the race, then there is plenty to do in Northern Italy. Below we have handpicked some of the best places to visit (including a couple with an F1 theme). Whilst you can visit these sites by train, your best bet is to hire a car and get exploring!
Milan’s massive gothic cathedral is a must-see, whether you’re here for a day or a week. Marvel at its 135 spires and over 3000 statues. You can’t miss it, either – Milan’s streets all circle and radiate from it’s central location. Admission is free unless you intend to take pictures. Shoulders and knees should be covered before you enter the cathedral. Views from the Duomo roof are staggering; entrance costs around €12. Click here for more information.
A rare green space in this vast metropolis, Parco Sempione is a 116 acre oasis of calm and beauty – the perfect antidote to a morning’s shopping or a hard weekend at Monza. There are cafes, lakes and amphitheaters here as well as several museums and galleries if that takes your fancy. And for those keen to pose, boogie and model-spot, there’s the very glitzy Cavalli Club situated at one end of the park. Very clean and very quiet.
Nightlife in Milan
Milan’s nightlife has everything from cosy little trattorias for a quiet pizza and glass of wine to full-on super clubs that only close when the sun comes up. Milan’s two main nightlife districts are the area around the Brera Gallery, and the Navigli canal area of the city. Nights really get going at around 11.00 pm and most clubs close at around about 4 am. Atlantique is one of Milan’s glitziest clubs and Volo is a popular nightspot with a walled garden. Look out for bars and clubs with a happy hour; it’ll make your night out a little easier on the pocket.
Shopping in Milan
If you’re after a designer fix in Milan, head for Quadrilatero d’Oro, which translates as the ‘rectangle of gold’. Unlike London and Paris, Milan’s designer shops are all conveniently located in this one location. Designer outlet stores can be found on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. For the Milanese answer to high-street shopping, try Corso Buenos Aires or Via Torino. Opening hours are normally from Tuesday to Saturday (9.30am-12.30pm & 3.30-7.30pm), with a half day on Monday (3.30-7.30pm). Read more about shopping in Milan here.
You may rub shoulders with the odd F1 driver on holiday if you spend a few days in Lake Como after Monza – this beautiful destination has something for everybody but is notoriously star-studded in the summer months. It’s only an hour and a half from Monza by road, so you may even find yourself staying here for the Grand Prix if you hire a car for the weekend. This Y-shaped lake is dotted with little towns like Varenna, Tremezzo and Bellagio. Weekdays are less busy in Lake Como as it’s a popular weekend destination for the Milanese, making it a great option for a few days pre- or post-F1. A dedicated train line runs between Como and Milan.
An hour out of Milan and forty minutes from Monza by road is the beautiful Roman city of Bergamo. Split over two sites (one high, one low) and linked by a funicular system as well as walking trails for the more energetic visitor, Alta Bergamo is the older part of the city with all the piazzas, museums, cathedrals and basilicas. Views on the way up to Alta are breathtaking, so keep your camera handy. Bergamo Bassa is the more contemporary district where you’ll find great shopping and lots of modern hotels. Check out the Piazza Vecchia for a truly stunning example of medieval-meets-Renaissance architecture in the heart of the old city.
A three hour drive from Monza and Milan is the F1 mecca that is Imola, and the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Home to the San Marino Grand Prix from 1981 to 2006, Imola is now best known for more tragic reasons as the track where Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives in 1994. There’s a bronze Senna monument within the grounds, and nearby Hotel Castello is where many iconic drivers would stay when racing here.
About an hour by road from Imola is the town of Maranello, best known for being the home of Scuderia Ferrari. Maranello is about 200km from Milan and Monza, on a nice fast road. Check out our trip guide for a day out at the Ferrari factory, the Fiorano test track and the Ferrari Museum. Entrance to the museum is a modest €13 which includes the option to take a guided bus tour of the Ferrari factory and Fiorano test track.
Alfa Romeo Museum
Located in the Arese commune of Milan, around 12km north-west of the centre, you’ll find the Alfa Romeo museum. Easily accessible by public transport, the museum showcases cars and engines from the manufacturer’s illustrious history. Of particular interest to F1 fans will be the 159, which won races for Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio in 1951. The museum, housed over six floors, is open every day apart from Tuesdays, from 10am to 6pm. Admission is €12.
Near Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, you’ll find Milan’s flagship Ferrari Store. Spread over three floors, the store has a wide range of Ferrari merchandise and memorabilia on offer, from team apparel to accessories, designer objects and toys. The building is much more than just a shop – it also features interactive video walls and F1 simulators!