Tuesday, March 30, 2010

f1 at monza

Remember back when I went to Italy for the Formula 1 race and got back with tons of ideas about posts? Yeah. Those mostly didn't happen. So I'll do one now, on my experience at Monza, before I forget any more of it.

I went to the Grand Prix in Monza last year, September 2009, and I had an amazing experience. We did a lot of things right (some by accident), and I also did some things wrong. I'll put down my choices here in hopes that they might help someone else who's heading to the Grand Prix.


1. We stayed in Milano. I felt this was an excellent choice because of the freedom and ease of travel, mostly because we were there Wednesday through Sunday and that's a pretty long time to be in one spot. Monza is a lovely little town but being in the city was nicer for catching trains to other places for day trips (plus, I really liked Milano; it gets a bit of a bad rap, even among Italians, as a non-holiday-worthy city, but I found it pretty fabulous). Trains go to Monza constantly, and though we did not end up doing it, we also planned an easy day trip up to Lake Como. There are buses, streetcars, and a subway, as well as the bigger trains that leave the city. All of them are really easy to navigate and not expensive.

2. That said, we went to the Autodromo (the accent is on the second "o" by the way) every day we could and I was really happy. GO ON THURSDAY. We did on a whim, just to pick up our tickets, and decided we might as well go in since we were there. And hello, we got to go into the pits where the drivers were out signing stuff. Drivers. Mechanics. Pit lane. GO ON THURSDAY. Nobody checked our tickets, either. We just walked in and cruised around the track.

3. Take a cab from the train station instead of waiting for a bus, if you feel like it and aren't feeling too tight fisted. It's way harder the other direction, but going from the station it can be pretty convenient if the buses aren't running as frequently (like on Thursday and Friday).

4. Take the Autodromo bus back to Monza station, and be aware that you'll be walking for a while first. It's a lovely walk through a gorgeous park, so don't hoof it, take your time and look around; there were plenty of buses when we got to the pick up spot. Follow the crowds, it's very easy. Definitely wear comfy shoes; trainers are fine for sporting events, so don't worry about looking cool.

5. Purchase a bus ticket before you leave the train station! Actually, I recommend that regardless of where you're going. If you're wandering around Milano or outlying towns, just have a ticket or two that can get you onto the bus and metro. Makes life way easier to already have it in hand, as many (most?) buses won't let you pay in cash.

6. Bring sunscreen and a hat. You can buy a hat at the race, while sunscreen is not going to be available. Also consider having something on hand to block the sun while sitting in the stands. Our seats, while fantastic, did not have overhead coverage and the sun was very intense on race day. I used my jacket to shield my legs from the sun and escaped without a burn. A large scarf, a long sleeved dress shirt, or something else that you can drape over your shoulders will come in handy.

7. Pack a lunch. The food and beer are expensive at the race track, but not obscene. We brought a couple rolls, some mortadella, a few beers, a big bottle of water, and still ended up buying some snacks, and a sausage after the race.

8. You can get espresso at the beer gardens around the Autodromo. I recommend that. (Though for the love of pete don't order something more complicated than... an espresso. Don't be that guy.)

9. Hang out and eat at the track after the race. Walk the track a little, then go find one of the party areas and have some food. Let the crowds dissipate while you have a nice fresh beer and a sausage. It will still be light out when you do leave, and the buses will be less full.


1. Don't try to walk to the Monza train station all the way from the Autodromo. It's far enough that after a day in the sun walking around a track, you'll be confused and tired. Monza is not on a grid (shocking in Italy I know) and you might get turned around. Take a taxi, an Autodromo bus, or a city bus (see above about bus tickets).

2. Bring an umbrella. Or a big plastic tarp. Or a rain jacket. Or heck, two large garbage bags. I got caught in a sudden rainstorm after Saturday qualifying and was totally soaked in my sandals and sun dress. Not fun! I was very uncomfortable the whole way home, as well as embarrassed. There aren't many options for cover once the rain starts; the trees in the forest are only so-so, the grandstands don't offer any real protection, and there aren't enough beer stands to accommodate everyone. Be prepared to hunker down. I was intensely jealous of the people who brought big tarps and simply created a little tent for themselves, where they continued to drink and enjoy themselves.

3. The train system is good, but it can take a while to get to Monza. Give yourself extra time to get from point A to B. Panic isn't fun. We took a cab from Milano to Monza to get to our tickets before the booth closed, and it was awful.

I'll post more additions as I think of them, but please leave me questions if you have any. I highly, highly recommend the Monza experience and hopefully these little tips will help anyone considering going!

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