Outlines of history
Before considering the history of Parco di Monza, it is only right to go through the history of Villa Reale.
Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions, decided to build a palace for her son the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este. The location selected was Monza, in light of healthy climate and, mainly, as it stands between Milan and Vienna.
The Villa was built in three years only, from 1777 through 1780, based on a design of royal imperial architect Giuseppe Piermarini. Archduke Ferdinand utilized the Villa as country residence up to 1796, when Napoleon army chased the Habsburgs off.
In 1805 the new viceroy of Italy, Eugene de Beauharnais, took possession of the Villa that from then on took the name of Villa Reale (royal villa). Soon after, thanks to a decree of Napoleon, some 700 hectares ground joined the complex of Villa Reale and Giardini, establishing the Parco di Monza. A wall of 13 kilometers was built to protect the park.
In 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, the Habsburgs came back to northern Italy up to 1859, when, after independence war II, Villa Reale became a property of the House of Savoy.
It was used as country residence by Italy Kings up to 1900, when King Umberto I was assassinated in Monza. His successor, King Vittorio Emanuele III, closed the Villa removing most furnishings that were transferred to Quirinale (former Kings residence, now seat of the President of Italian Republic).
Some years later, in 1934, King Vittorio Emanuele III donated the Villa to Monza and Milan cities.
After world war II, the Villa Reale suffered from additional occupations and plundering.
At present the Villa Reale belongs to Regione Lombardia, Monza and Milan cities.
In 2010, a call for bids has been issued to restore some portions of the Villa. Unfortunately the call cannot be welcome since the undisclosed private winner, though contributing for 4 million euro only out of the 19 million allocated by public institutions (namely citizens), will take profit of the best portion of the palace for 30 years at a negligible rent - 30,000 euro/year.
Outlines of Parco di Monza history
1805 - a decree of Napoleon established the main park as delights place, farming and hunting estate. Hundreds of ground hectares belonging to the city of Monza and to neighbouring towns are added, along with private estates of Mirabello and Mirabellino villas. Between 1805 and 1808, Architect Luigi Canonica designs its overall order.
1808 - Building of the wall: 13 kilometers long including an area of 732 hectares.
1814/1848 - Austrian restoration and happy life for the already finished park. It is run by experts and passionate botanists enrich its green asset. During this period the park is also opened to public.
"The farm and wood wide area design, joining the Palace, was accomplished according to the landscape design of Luigi Canonica. In fact, the main architectures of farms and villas within the park area were adapted and transformed. Wide tree boulevards were established or reorganized, the ground was shaped and the water system was adapted to the new needs. Extraordinary views were opened to the most charming external and internal areas and to the "bosco bello" (charming wood), to the Lambro river, to farmsteads, to mills, to farming and hunting grounds." (Ms. A. Maniglio Calcagno).
1848/1920 - Unhappy period, not for direct damages, but as it lays the foundations for the forthcoming destruction of the Parco di Monza. At first, the park becomes a property of the Italian Crown and it is closed to public. After the assassination of Umberto I, the royal family leaves the park that, after World War I, is yielded up to the Italian State. Italian State then cedes it to Associazione Nazionale Combattenti (an Association for Italian war veterans), that in turn yields the full ensemble to a consortium formed by Monza and Milan Cities and Societa' Umanitaria.
From 1922 on, the most unhappy period for Parco di Monza, Villa Reale and Giardini starts. It is abandoned and invaded by sports and leisure premises: 1922 motor-car racing track; 1923 horse racing track; 1928 golf course; 1930 tennis courses. Starting from 1950 changes and heavy alterations spread all over: hockey course, polo club, building housing the Italian broadcasting company, stables, camping, swimming pool, kennel, and golf course widening are accomplished.
At present Parco di Monza is by 55 pct. leased to private entities and/or citizens and by 45 pct left to public use.
"The Parco became a container for private citizens' activities whose only service is friendship with Monza and Milan administrators." (Milena Bocci, Member of The Comitato per il Parco, 1995).
As of 1934 Milan and Monza have been the owners of the park and, as of April 1996, of half of the Villa Reale as well. The park is part of the Parco Valle del Lambro. Such a choice has originally been welcome, since it might lead to create a territory plan to "identify the objectives for the whole area, besides examining the possible compatibility of the ongoing uses and the time and way to cease the non compatible uses" (Ms. M. Di Fidio).
However this plan has been opposed by big private interest falling on Parco di Monza, Villa Reale and Giardini. Its only outcome was a technical regional committee managing a 12 million Eur public fund - coming out of global fund already allocated for other parks - to compensate the cutting down of 185 trees in 1995, on the occasion of one of the amendments claimed and obtained by the racing track management.
The racing track highly reduces any possible improvement of Parco di Monza and mainly endangers, year after year, its historic, scenery and environmental value as a whole.
The racing track is in fact steadily changing, thus involving additional ground to cement and more trees to pull down, besides the environmental damages regularly occurring at any Grand Prix and the steady noise caused by over 200 games/year.
The racing track is a real pain eating yearly portions of Park and, on the occasion of Grand Prix, the whole Park becomes servicing area for the racing track, where parking, camping, using branches for fires, throwing hips of garbage, and using fence as lavatories, are allowed.
A historic park is being jeopardized forever now due to rude people negligence and to the ongoing blackmail of the F1 bosses. As already threatened many times, they might abruptly decide to discontinue the Monza Grand Prix rights. In spite of this, mayor and council majority have decided to renew to the racing track management a grant maturing in 2026 at a ridiculous fee for such a wide area, namely Eur 800,000/year. Such a decision has not even been discussed in proper town council meetings.
Should private premises within the park - just like racing track and golf course - be profitable, Parco di Monza, Villa Reale and Giardini would not be in such poor conditions.