When we moved to Italy for my work assignment, we didn't choose where we live based on the surrounding amenities, we chose based on the location of my son's school. We combined the location of the school, my commute to work, and the fact that we would only have one car for the assignment to help us choose where we would live. We've since discovered that our choice of locations has one of the most fabulous benefits imaginable - we are right next to the Parco di Monza (Monza Park). The Monzese are quite proud to tell you that Parco di Monza is the largest walled park in Europe, and at over 688 acres this park is larger than most other urban parks, walled or not. Established as a public park in 1806, it was once the grounds of the King of Italy's summer residence, and boasts the Villa Reale, literally the "Royal Villa", along with the Monza Autodromo, host to motorsport events including Formula One.
But those are just stats, and don't even begin to describe what I love about the park. Entering the park is like crossing a magical threshold. You leave the urban world behind, where the population density here has us living on top of each other in apartment buildings and cars crowding the streets, and find yourself in an altogether different place. It is an oasis of nature, providing rejuvenation of the mind and body. I love the tree-lined paths, that provide refreshing shade in the hot summer months, and wonderful light filtering through them year-round. I love seeing the groups of joggers out for their morning run together, a dog and it's owner playing fetch in the field near Lo Scrittore (a sculpture of a giant desk and chair), a solitary horseback rider trotting along a river path. I love hearing the birds twittering, the squirrels chattering, and the sound of church bells in the distance, ringing on the hour. There is a peace and beauty in this place that I find hard to put into words.
On the weekends in the Spring and Summer, the park is a lively place. Thousands of city-dwellers from all around come to the park in large groups of family and friends, stake out a spot and hang out for the day. Barbeques, volleyball, music, laughter, bicycles and strollers fill the park... everyone trying to get a little fix of nature in our concrete world. I'm one of the lucky ones, though, because I live across the street from this place. I get to see and experience the park almost every day. Rain or shine or snow, you will find me walking the paths of this park, refreshing my spirit. My mailing address says that I live in Vedano al Lambro, but the address of my heart is Parco di Monza, Italy.
If you would like to see more of Parco di Monza and where I live in Italy, stop by my blog.
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