The Green Giants
Starting point: The walk aims to discover the Green Giants of the Park. It begins beside the Orangery of Villa Reale. In the 19th century, various species of citrus fruit were cultivated here. Of particular importance and value are the remains of three monumental beech trees from the Napoleonic era. In recent years they have been subject to fungus attacks and their structure is gravely compromised. On the lawn, which provides a scenic view of the splendid rear façade of the Villa, a collection of “solitary” indigenous plants can be seen: the group of old beech trees. Proceeding along the prospect leading from Villa Reale, we cross the “Roggia del Principe” (the Prince’s Watercourse). Flanking this are two oaks listed among the historical trees of Italy. These two giants have overlooked the façade of Villa Reale for two centuries. A few paces on the English-style lawn lead us to a splendid ginkgo, breathing the spirit of Japan. Turning our gaze, we take a leap across the ocean to discover an American sequoia, with its red trunk. Standing guard over the side of the Villa is the tulip tree. In late autumn, this creates a display of colours worthy of Monet! This corner of the Giardini Reali, dedicated to exotic plants, concludes with the massive cedar of Lebanon. As we proceed along the path beginning at the south-east corner of the Villa, we descend into a shady area and for a while we follow the surrounding wall close to the gigantic cedar of Lebanon. This is outstanding among the trees of the gardens of Villa Reale. Not a single trunk, but four soar skywards. This makes the tree a true botanical museum-piece.
The walk through the Gardens finishes here after an hour. Those with well-trained legs can continue the itinerary along the pathways of the 19th century park of Monza. On your left is the surrounding wall which separates the Giardini Reali from the rest of the Park.
Proceeding ahead, we see on our left Cascina del Sole and Viale Cavriga. One can never cease to admire Cascina Cavriga, a splendid example of neoclassical architecture, vying in beauty with the neo-Gothic façade of Cascina S. Fedele. From here, we continue into the heart of the 19th century Park. Here we find the great meadow of the ex-hippodrome. The area has been renovated and the “Viale dei Carpini” restored. This avenue, lined with rounded hornbeam trees, once linked Villa Mirabello with Villa Mirabellino, home of the Durini family in the 17th and 18th centuries. Still today, we can admire the beauty of the two hornbeams facing the garden of Villa Mirabellino.
Leaving Villa Mirabellino to our left and proceeding towards the mound of Vedano, we can descend into the clearing beneath the queen of all the park’s trees: the centuries-old oak, hidden and protected from most common mortals by a wood of elders and yews. Its contorted trunk testifies to its struggle in search of light. As we look upwards to its highest branches we can relax and feel ourselves embraced by this green grandparent!
Arrival point: After a few hundred metres, the path narrows and we take a small footpath through the wood. As the branches begin to dwindle, we find ourselves in Viale Vedano: rising above all the other trees is a centuries-old walnut which dons a golden mantle in autumn.
As we turn right into Viale Mirabello, the last surprise of our long trek comes into view. Behind Villa Mirabello, on the terrace gently sloping towards the Lambro valley, a landscape feature ably exploited by the situation of the Villa, we can admire a horse chestnut tree that is more than two hundred years old. Its unusual shape invites us to rest at its feet.
Length of itinerary: about 9 km. Suitable for walking.