The late 15th century mural painting by da Vinci is one of the Western world’s most recognisable paintings. But rather than gaze at a picture why not see this work of art for yourself?

Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (referred to as Cenacolo Vinciano in Italian) is not only one of the world’s most famous artworks but also one of Italy’s most visited sights. The mysterious look portrayed on Christ’s face has amazed historians and art critics alike, not dissimilar to that of the Mona Lisa’s smile. Completed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1498, this iconic painting can be spotted in the refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church in Milan.

Background

Contrary to popular belief, The Last Supper is not a fresco, but a wall painting crafted using a technique called tempera – a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of coloured pigments mixed with a water-soluble. Despite its long lasting elements however, little of da Vinci’s original painting remains, despite efforts to restore it. This is due to a mixture of factors, including environmental, intentional damage and the paintings foundations. As many people know, the Last Supper was not painted on any old canvas or background, but actually a wall. The wall of the Santa Maria delle Garzie dining hall in Milan. The church has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its containment of the famous mural. The painting was to be the centre piece of the mausoleum as commissioned by Prince Sforza. Unfortunately the painting was at risk from the beginning as Sfroza had ordered the church to be built too hastily, leading the walls to be filled with moisture-retaining rubble. Leonardo worked on the painting on a thin exterior wall, which meant the effects of humidity were felt keenly, and the paint failed to properly adhere to it. This meant that even before the painting was completed in 1948, it has already begun to deteriorate, and as early as 1517 it started to flake.

At present, the management board allows just 1,300 people to visit the Last Supper each day. While one-time slot permits 25 visitors to marvel at the painting for 15 minutes, this method was devised to put a check on dust particles brought by visitors, which in turn, accelerate the deterioration process.

How to buy the tickets for ‘The Last Supper’

To see Leonardo da Vinci’s painting head to the square of the church (Santa Maria delle Garzie) and to the left of the main entrance. Today the painting no longer belongs to the church, but to the state, as part of a National Museum. Being among one of the most popular tourist attractions tickets to see The Last Supper often sell out, so make sure you plan ahead. To book your tickets in advance we suggest to start checking the official site approximately 2-3 months before you plan to go to Milan. Tickets cost €12 and include a guided tour in English or Italian. Please also note that a maximum of 5 tickets can be purchased at one given time, and are name specific. This means you might be asked to present a valid ID when collecting/showing your tickets.

Another option if you find yourself in Milan with no option of booking tickets in advance is to turn up to the official ticket office on the day. Any tickets which have not been sold, or have been returned with turn up here. Success isn’t guaranteed, but to improve your chances, we suggest getting there as soon as it opens at 8:00 am. This is also the cheapest way to get tickets as you don’t have to pay the €2 reservation fee.

Useful visitor information 

To get to the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie we suggest taking the train. The closest underground is Conciliazione (M1) or Cadorna (M1/M2), and then it’s a 10-minute walk from there. Easy! If you’re coming from the Duomo it’s a 15-20 minute walk, or if you prefer, take the 16 tram which stops right in the square. To make sure you definitely don’t miss your time slot, head to the ticket office about 20-minutes beforehand with your tickets printed or your reservation number to hand. This will ensure you get there on time, plus if you’ve got some time to kill you can visit the Santa Maria church which is right next door. Then when its your turn you’ll be shown to a room where you will have to wait for 5-minutes before going to see the painting, enough time for you to get dehumidified so as to prevent further damage to the painting. Then its time to feast your eyes on a visual masterpiece!

Pro Tips 

  • The availability keeps changing on a daily basis, and in case you don’t find availability for the date you want, it’s always wise to check back again.
  • If you find your desired date, it’s better to book your slot right away because tickets are sold quickly.
  • While tickets are free of cost for those below 18 years, a reservation is still required.
  • A full ticket costs 10 euros plus an advance booking fee of 2 euros. What’s more; the ticket price comes with a $5 gift card that could be used for other selected tours in Italy.
  • Viewing Hours: 8:15 am to 7 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The exhibit is closed on Monday.

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