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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Milan: How To Get Tickets To View Da Vinci's Last Supper


Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, is one of the top attractions in Milan, yet many tourists go home without having seen it, disappointed because they did make the proper preparations in advance. Here’s what you need to know about the painting, its location, and how to obtain tickets, so that you can be one of the lucky ones who returns home satisfied.

Although the painting (called L'ultima cena, or, Il Cenacolo in Italian) itself is instantly recognizable, many people may not know that its location is quite simple, small, and unassuming. Santa Maria delle Grazie is a church and Dominican convent in central Milan, commissioned in the late 1400s by the dukes of the Sforza family. The Last Supper, which Da Vinci painted for them and finished in 1498, covers the back wall of the convent’s dining hall.
Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milano, inside of which is the Last Supper.

The painting, which measures 15’ x 29’, is a mural, not a fresco, as it was painted on a dry wall and not on wet plaster. Because of the method and materials used by Da Vinci the painting was very fragile. As early as 1517 it was already beginning to deteriorate, and several restoration attempts were made over the centuries. During WWII a bomb greatly damaged the refectory. The painting, which had been covered with panels and sandbags in a preemptive measure, survived, although it did incur further damage.

The major restorative efforts took place from 1978 to 1999. The refectory was rebuilt, not in its original style, but as a sealed, climate-controlled environment. Visitors enter in small groups, pass through a humidity-controlling chamber before entering, and are allowed only 15 minutes inside to view the painting. There are no other artworks inside (apart from another mural on the opposing wall). One is there only to view, and then one exits, first into a gift shop and then the street.

Tickets must be purchased well in advance for a viewing.

The official ticket site is cenacolo.it You will see a calendar indicating dates available. Tickets can be purchased three months in advance.  It may seem to you that there are very few dates available from this calendar. This is common. This does not mean you are out of luck. This means the tickets have most likely been purchased by tour groups that include them in their package tours. If you cannot find a ticket here for the date you need you can start searching for it elsewhere, but keep in mind that you will pay a premium on it.

Here are a few reputable tour operators selling tickets individually or as part of a Milan tour:


These are just a few ticket operators of many you will find online. Keep in mind they may charge various service fees and prices. Some will also tell you that you cannot purchase a ticket only for The Last Supper; this is not true. However, I highly recommend at least a half-day tour including The Last Supper. In other words, do your comparison shopping and be an informed and careful buyer.

Once purchased, you should receive a voucher to print as your ticket and receipt. Arrive at the church and present this 20 minutes in advance of your reserved time.
Enhance your experience further by learning even a little about the painting before you arrive, or by renting an audio tour at the church.

Understanding the ticket ordering process, planning in advance, and armed with this information about the Last Supper painting and Santa Maria delle Grazie can assure you your opportunity to spend 15 minutes of relative solitude in front of one of the world’s greatest works of art.

Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2
(just off Corso Magenta)
MILANO - 20100

Hours:

From Tuesday to Sunday, from until (last admission at )
Closed Mondays, and on January 1, May 1, and December 25.

Public Transportation:
Tram 18-24: fermata Corso Magenta -
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Metro MM1: fermata Conciliazione o Cadorna Metro MM2: fermata Cadorna




Here's an interesting little site to read before you go, maybe even to print out and take with you. It looks at some of the trivia, history, and urban legends regarding the painting. Fun...
...and since you'll have only 15 minutes to view the painting, see what else you can do in Milan while there:

http://stresasights.blogspot.com/search/label/milan


The Last Supper
piazza

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