The Italian Grand Prix in Monza was honestly a bucket list item for me. As a Ferrari fan, it’s the one race out of the year that true fans strive to attend. The tifosi are a passionate bunch, you can feel the excitement for the sport and especially for the home team. Monza is also one of the most historical tracks still on the race calendar to date. The track dates back to 1922, however it has changed since then. The unbelievably banked corners haven’t been used since 1969, however some of the original track are still in use, primarily through the pit straight.
It was an amazing experience but there were a lot of unknowns or answers I couldn’t find online. I’m going to try to answer some questions I had before the race that I found out just experiencing the grounds.
How to get to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza from Milan:
This is actually easier than it sounded. I stayed in the Ibis Milano Centro Hotel, which was about a 10-15 minute walk to the Milano Centrale train station. I wanted to arrive to the track early each day as I wanted the full experience of the weekend. There are trains to Monza every 10-20 minutes from Milan and the cost for the tickets were €5.50 per person, per direction. Monza is 12 minutes from Milano Centrale (depending on the train). Once at Monza Station, follow the signs for the shuttle bus to the autodromo. Once outside of the station, there was a line to purchase the tickets at a cost of €5.00 round trip per day. If you don’t like crowds, don’t do to an F1 race. At no point did I ever feel unsafe, or worried about someone ripping me off, however I was diligent. Getting onto the shuttle bus, they try to pack as many people on them as possible, personal space does not exist. It’s about a 15 minute ride to the autodromo from the station, they drop you off along one of the roadways within the park. From this point it is about a 2 km walk to Gate “G”. See the map for where I’ve circled the drop off point for the shuttle.
Picking up Formula One tickets at Ticket Collection:
As my trip to Europe started earlier than the tickets would have arrived in Canada, I opted for ticket pick up at the race. I was actually glad I did this as I wouldn’t have wanted to carry around F1 tickets all over Europe with me, would have been awful if I lost them. As I mentioned earlier, I arrived by shuttle from the Monza train station, walked towards Ingresso G (Gate G), then turned left and continued walking down the path to Ingresso A (Gate A). Once there, there is a portable to the right for Ticket Collection. I was stressing that I had forgot my confirmation in my hotel room, however they were very accommodating and gave the tickets to me with presentation of my ID.
Going through security:
The longest line (other than a beer line), will be the security line. Keep in mind that security on Friday and Saturday will differ from Sunday (race day). Arrive early. You think a time is early, say 7 am to leave your hotel, leave at 6 am. Not joking. I arrived Sunday to lines that took 2 hours to get inside the secure area, took less than 10 minutes any of the other days. Don’t bother to bring alcohol or even a water bottle. I brought my BLK water bottle and pleaded to keep it, as I had no warning that Sunday they were not allowing anything with a lid through security, thankfully he allowed it. However the number of thermoses, water bottles, wine bottles, tall cans of beer and other items that were confiscated was just crazy. Be prepared for a pat down (by a woman if you’re a woman), a bag check and have your tickets ready to be scanned.
Getting the most out of your race weekend:
There are so many events, things to see and do on a race weekend. I’m a planner so I had the time table with me. Just keep in mind, there are lines everywhere.
Fan Zone: If you are a fan of the sport, you will find some pretty cool activities in the Fan Zone. They have a stage for talks with drivers, technical staff and higher ups in F1, live DJ’s, bands and other acts. Want to see how fast you can change a tire, try the “Pit Stop Challenge”. Fly a drone, wave the flag, jump on the podium, cast F1 news and see some pretty awesome F1 memorabilia. This year was Ferrari’s 70th anniversary, so there was a tent set up with Ferrari’s from many different years. There was also an Ayrton Senna tent, with his car, helmet and a few other historical items of interest. There is also the official Formula One Souvenir tent here. I picked up a ticket holder/protector (so that my tickets didn’t get wet) and an official programme.
Food and Drink Stands: Bring cash and again, be prepared to wait in very long lines. Beers went for €8 each and a bottle of water or Coke was €4. I had packed a lunch (a cornetto with provolone and salami) from my hotel, that was allowed in through security.
Historic Race Oval: The easiest way to access the race oval, especially the banked corner is near Gate G. The trails go up on either side of the bridge (it is a dirt trail, not a paved one). It is pretty impressive. Make sure you are wearing good shoes, particularly if you want to climb to the top of the track (it’s steep).
After the Race: Be prepared to run… Right after the last car is in the pit straight, the marshals will open the track. Run… Get on track and run to the finish line and get in with the infamous tifosi. If you were lucky like I was, a Ferrari driver will be on the podium and the celebrations are legendary.
Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fan energy that this special place brings.