So here we are heading to Italy again for another summer adventure. This time our trip will take us to Monza, Riva Del Garda, La Spezia, Pisa & The Cinque Terre. We’re travelling down by car this time and camping so its a totally different experience to our last adventure last summer. Let me tell you how it went.
The Italian F1 Grand Prix
First of all we headed to Monza for the Italian F1 Grand Prix. It is a pretty special Grand Prix to attend if you’re an F1 fan. The history of this track is immense and the atmosphere is one of the best that we’ve encountered at any F1 Grand Prix we’ve attended. So if you’ve ever thought about going to the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Monza then here’s a quick guide.
How did we get there?
We travelled down in our car at the time (before our campervan Bob) and the journey would take us down through France, Switzerland and then down into Italy. We left home around 5pm on the Wednesday night and arrived at the campsite in Monza just after lunchtime on the Thursday. We travelled from the UK via the Dover Calais ferry and caught a ferry around 1.30am on the Thursday morning. We shared the driving so that its not too gruelling but the aim is to get to the campsite as quickly as possible.
We spoke to people that have flown into either Milan or Turin and hired a car/camper-van for the weekend and others that have been on holiday in other parts of Italy and taken the train up to Monza for the weekend. The trains in Italy are pretty excellent.
Where do we stay?
Any time we’ve been to the Italian F1 we’ve stayed at the Monza camping campsite which is next to the track. Believe me you literally wake up in the morning and can see the track and stands and hear the cars long before the track is open. Yes, its that close. There are other campsites around that offer similar facilities but we’ve always liked this one because of its location. Monza also has hotel options for those folks not into camping.
We try and get there as early as possible on the Thursday as Thursday tends to be the pit walk day and unlike other tracks if you buy a 3 day ticket for Monza then the pit walk is included. Be prepared for crowds as its incredibly popular but its worth the throng of people to get behind the scenes.
How do you get tickets?
So buying the tickets for an event that is months away and parting with a significant amount of cash can be daunting. There are various sites which sell F1 tickets and here are a couple that we’ve used and found to be really good.:
I’m not saying these are the only places to buy tickets from but these are the ones we’ve used and had no issues with things like extra charges, tickets not arriving, communication etc.
We tend to opt for a 3 day ticket which by all accounts is more reasonable than buying a day ticket. A General Admission ticket used to do us fine however these days we prefer a stand ticket as with General Admission you need to be up pretty early on race day to grab a good spot.
The one good thing about Monza is that if you do choose a General Admission ticket there is plenty spots to get a fantastic view from. You’re spoiled for choice.
Monza track facilities
Like most F1 tracks food and drink can be pretty expensive so take plenty of cash with you. There are loads of food and drink stands dotted around the track and they love their pannini with all sorts of fillings – sausage, ham, cheese, vegetarian – all grilled in front of you and pretty fresh. If you don’t fancy a sandwich then there are chips, pastries and if you’re lucky there’s a self service restaurant just up from the main F1 village that serves pasta, pizza, salads and is pretty good but get in the queue early to make sure you get in as its pretty popular.
Drinks are pretty much soft drinks and beer. Johnny Walker has been a sponsor of F1 for a while now and they always have some stalls dotted about the track where they make some good cocktails.
The food and drink stalls work on a token basis, which is similar to other F1 tracks, where you have to queue to pay and get a token and then move over to the vendor area where your token is exchanged for your food. Crazy when its busy and you can be queuing for quite a while on qually and race day.
There are plenty of toilet facilities around the track but the majority of these are portable (single toilets) and can get pretty stinky. Handy to have some wipes in your bag as there isn’t any hand washing in the cabin. There is one set of regular toilets on the way to the F1 Village but you can imagine the queues there.
As with all F1 tracks the teams stalls are abundant selling all the team merchandise you could ask for. My tip would be to check out a few if you’re after a particular item as some has massively inflated prices for the same shirt/hat etc. Also if you’re buying anything, get it on a Friday as by Saturday/Sunday on race day the prices are hiked up.
Outside the track
Close to the track and the campsite you can find an abundance of restaurants, bars and shops. The closest bar to the campsite, which we frequented often, is Neffa Cafe . This cafe is great for after race drinks and you can get some snacks here too. Another great bar is one that we call, the Bar with the Car as there is an F1 car on the wall but its name really is The Pit Stop Cafe and is absolutely jammed packed over the F1 weekend but with a fantastic atmosphere. These are just a couple that we like but you’ll be spoiled for choice.
For the campers there’s a Lidl not far from the campsite. Probably a 10 min walk where you can stock up on all those gorgeous Italian delicacies.
Trip to Milan
On the Friday, after second practice we made our way to the train station on the north west side of the park to Biassono-Lesmo Parco train station where you can catch the train to Milan. They run approx every hour and the journey takes around 30 mins to Milan Central station. The cost is reasonable, about €3 each way. So get yourself off to Milan and see the fantastic Duomo and wander the gorgeous streets where the rich and famous come to shop.
Some helpful hints to make your visit fantastic.
- The race is usually in September when it can still be warm but there’s a risk of sharp and heavy thunder showers so pack a good waterproof
- Alway be on your guard from pickpockets. Be ultra aware when in crowds & keep your bags close.
- There are no cash machines inside the track
- Bags are searched on entry to the track. There is a separate queue for folks without a bag so if you can, don’t take a bag and you’ll get in quicker
- There is entertainment on the main stage in the F1 village throughout the day
- You can see the old parabolica curve if you sneak through a hole in the fence down at the southern end of the track but be careful, this is patrolled by security but worth a sneaky peek
- If you hang around at the entrance to the Paddock club up past the Helicopter landing area then you may just catch a glimpse of a driver or someone related to the F1 Circus
- If you have a general admission or even some of the stand tickets then the seats are concrete so a little cushion is a good idea. Some of the vendors outside the track sell these little cushions but they’re all Ferrari so if you’re not a Ferrari fan then take your own
- The tifosi are loud but pretty friendly – they don’t like any drivers apart from the Ferrari drivers or any Italian drivers. They’ll boo everyone else but its all done in good fun.
- The track is inside the park at Monza. Its a great place to have a walk around when you’re not inside the track watching the race.
- The Dutch and the Italians have a “who can play the loudest” techno music in the evenings and you’ll be amazed at some of the gear they turn up with.
- There are plenty of gates to enter the track right after the race. Get up and out your seat early as there’s a big squish as soon as the cars cross the finish line.
- Plenty of big screens around the track and commentary in English & Italian
So that’s about it. If you’ve got any questions then just give me a shout and I’ll try and help. If you’ve been to Monza for the F1 and have any tips of your own then please share.
Absolutely LOVE Monza
Other F1 Races we’ve been to are:
Singapore (coming soon)
Silverstone (coming soon)
Belgium SPA (coming soon)
Baku (coming soon)
So what next?
Well the second part of our 2nd Italian adventure would take us east to Lake Garda where we spent a wonderful few days relaxing after the F1. We went up hills, round lakes and ate lots of pizza and gelato. Sounds perfect huh? Well yes it was. Check it out!
Our initial reason for visiting Lake Garda was to try one of the Via Ferrata hikes which are dotted around the surrounding mountains. You can read the story of our Via Ferrata hike here. We chose Riva Del Garda as our base as there seemed to be lots to do and it was stunningly beautiful. […]