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Great Italian directors chose the settings of Villa Reale, the royal palace, or Monza’s Park for their films. Michelangelo Antonioni, Vittorio De Sica, but also Roger Corman and John Frankenheimer are a mere example of those who decided to shot some scenes in the shadows of the trees in the Park, in the rooms of the Villa Reale and other noble buildings or on the tarmac of the Autodromo, the race track.
This “green lung” in Monza has also fascinated foreign producers for the big screen. Therefore, John Hurt, James Garner and Alain Delon played on the same ground as eminent Italian actors, such as Marcello Mastroianni, icon of the “Dolce vita” by Fellini, Tomas Milian and Stefano Accorsi, star of many films by Gabriele Muccino and Ferzan Özpetek.
Since Lumière’s invention of cinema, the romantic atmosphere, the botanical richness, the elegance of the villas and the mythical Gran Prix race track have been the setting for many films, shorts, documentaries and tv spots.
The ideal journey throughout the settings starts from the Villa Reale. Right in front of the main entrance the protagonist of Velvet Hands (Franco Castellano e Giuseppe Moccia, 1979) falls in the fountain, whilst a scene of The Last 4 Days of Mussolini (Carlo Lizzani, 1974) is shot in Queen Margherita’s Sitting-room. The Queen and her husband Umberto I of Savoy are also actors of a pioneering short film by Vittorio Calcina dating back to 1896.
A quick stop follows in the Royal Gardens, along the near banks of the river Lambro and moving then towards the Neo-Gothic Gateway, where Beethoven wanders in Musikanten (Franco Battiato, 2005). Not far away, the Tower hosted the frightening atmosphere of Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990), obtained by adding a rose window to the actual building.
Now walking along the boulevard viale Mirabello, we reach villa Mirabellino. You can distinguish it on the background of the missing horse track in Ace (Castellano and Moccia. 1981), whereas its garden appears in the fairy dream of Giacomo in The Santa Claus Gang (Paolo Genovese, 2010). Right in front of this villa, crossing the boulevard viale dei Carpini, lies villa Mirabello, in which stables Adriano Celentano comes back to play in He’s Worse Than Me (Enrico Oldoni, 1985).
The visit of the locations continues at Porta Vedano, one of the western gateways and excellent starting point for those who arrive from the North. Exactly in this place the assassin of Big Guns (Duccio Tessari, 1973) speeds by during a chase. Still keeping outside the race track, you can see Villa Litta, setting of some scenes of the masterpiece The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Vittorio De Sica, 1970).
The close Autodromo instead inspired the spaces of Pixar’s success Cars 2 (Brad Lewis e John Lasseter, 2010) and plays its role of “temple of speed” also on the big screen. Black and white in Last Meeting (Gianni Franciolini, 1951), in the final confrontation of Gran Prix (John Frankenheimer, 1966), on the background of the meeting between the characters of Mastroianni and Faye Dunaway in A Place for Lovers (Vittorio De Sica, 1968), in the intriguing Delitto in Formula Uno (Bruno Corbucci, 1984), up to the recent Italian Race (Matteo Rovere, 2016).
The tour end at the refined grasses of the Golf Club Milano, which makes its appearance in The Night (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961).
The Park and the Royal Palace of Monza keep on catching the attention of cinema and tv productions, thanks to the variety of landscapes that enclose. Countless natural corners with their original beauty or arranged flower by flower, rural and noble palaces looking splendid or decadent, contemporary art and transport services by horse, by bike or by train, not to mention the worldwide renowned race track. Everything at the foot of the Prealps.