Monza is the quickest circuit on the current calendar, and pretty much always has been. It was built in 1922 and first held the Italian Grand Prix in the same year.
The track was built as a hybrid road course and oval. The oval—last used in F1 for the tragic 1961 Italian Grand Prix—is no longer a true part of the circuit, but it's kept clear and still cuts through the landscape around (and over) the circuit. You can see it here.
The road course on the other hand has lasted the test of time. Chicanes have come, gone and shifted, but the modern layout is nearly identical to the one Monza was born with.
As is the case with most classic circuits, all the corners have names. A brief explanation of the origin of each is provided when possible.
Turns 1 and 2 (Variante del Rettifilo)
A lap begins on the pit straight with a long run down towards the first corner. On a racing lap the cars regularly hit speeds close to 340 kilometers (210 miles) per hour before braking hard for the Rettifilo chicane (Turns 1 and 2).
Rettifilo ("straight" in Italian, after where it's located) is a classic tight chicane, first right and then left. Out-braking doesn't happen much in F1 these days but if it did, this would be an excellent spot for it to happen.
Any car running wide through here will have an unpleasant, bouncy trip across some the rumble strips.
Turn 3 (Curva Grande)
The cars then accelerate towards and through the long right-hander of Turn 3 (the name means "big curve"). They enter the turn at around 280 kilometers per hour and exit it six seconds later doing close to 320.
For a modern car it's little more than a bent straight, but the sight of a car powering through a turn at such speed is still a sight to behold.
Turns 4 and 5 (Variante Della Roggia)
Another heavy braking zone is next for the second of Monza's chicanes, Roggia. The name means "canal" or "ditch". It's not seen by the TV cameras, but there's a small drainage ditch running along the exterior of the circuit boundaries here.
It's left then right, quite quick for such a small chicane, and it's easy to get out of shape defending through here.
Turns 6 and 7 (Lesmos)
A short straight follows before the first Lesmo (named for a nearby municipality), Turn 6. This right-hander looks and is quite tight but it's also slightly banked, so the cars can carry higher than expected speed through here.
The second Lesmo (Turn 7) follows soon after. A medium-speed, fairly abrupt right-hander, getting it wrong here can wreck a good lap time (or leave a driver open to attack from a rival).
Turns 8, 9 and 10 (Variante Ascari)
The cars exit the Lesmos and it's full throttle again for another long straight. The track drops downhill quite significantly after the left-hand kink before rising after it passes under a bridge. This is where the old banking still passes over the circuit.
The braking zone for the Ascari (named after F1 legend Alberto Ascari) chicane is slightly uphill, and the drivers leave it late—around 100 metres before the corner.
It's a quick left-right-left chicane. After the opening left the drivers try to keep their foot down through the remaining two corners, exiting at around 250 kph.
The run-off here has been made less inviting for 2013—cars routinely go very wide over the kerbs as they exit the chicane onto the straight because of the benign tarmac run-off. Artificial grass now runs the entire length of the kerbing.
Turn 11 (Parabolica)
After another blast down a long straight it's braking for Monza's final corner, the beautiful right-hand Parabolica ("Parabolic"—Turn 11).
It's a long corner but the hard work is done in just a few seconds of braking into the early apex. From there the drivers floor the accelerator and let the car drift wide for the best line back onto the long start-finish straight.
The pit lane entry is just after the exit of Turn 11, and the exit is just after the finish line a fair distance before Turn 1.