Villa Reale

Top choice in The Italian Lakes

In Monza's colossal park stands this equally colossal palace. Built between 1777 and 1780 as a viceregal residence for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Giuseppe Piermarini's vast Villa Reale was modelled on Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace. It served as the summer home for Italian royalty, but was abandoned following the assassination of Umberto I in 1900. Years of restoration have revived its glorious 3500-sq-metre frescoed, stuccoed and gilded interior containing royal apartments, a theatre, an orangery and a chapel.

Arguably of more interest is the space given over to avant-garde temporary exhibitions. Andy Warhol was showing at last visit.

There's a large modern cafe inside and acres of grand English-style gardens to explore afterwards.