Whether you are an art lover or not, everyone knows The Last Supper. This famous work painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1490s may well be the most important painting in the world.
Depicting an imperfect-looking Christ surrounded by majestic apostles, the painting is a treasure to the Christian and the art world and is difficult to see without getting tickets beforehand.
Why Is The Last Supper in Milan So Popular?
The Last Supper is a huge 460 × 880cm painting that covers one entire wall of the refectory in the Dominican chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
The painting itself diverts from the traditional Renaissance method of fresco painting which didn’t allow the artist to change the color once it was applied. Leonardo used a much more fragile method of painting the plastered wall with a base layer of white before applying the pigment layer. This allowed Leonardo to paint more slowly with attention to the minutest detail.
This dry-wall painting method also allowed Da Vinci to create more intense tones and effects of light. Leonardo’s work of art changed the destiny of painting and gave expression to what he called ‘motions of the soul’.
When traveling to Italy and visiting the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum in the Santa Maria delle Grazie has to be top of your list of things to do in Milan. The Last Supper covers the north wall of the refectory.
Why Is It Difficult To Get Tickets To The Last Supper in Milan?
The secco method used by Leonardo to paint resulted in a loss of pigmentation over time. There have been many attempted restorations over the centuries, more than 9 in fact, with the last restoration lasting 22 years from 1977 to 1999. Pinin Brambilla Barcilon painstakingly restored parts of The Last Supper that had been concealed by previous restoration attempts.
Because of the extensive restorations and to prevent the painting from deteriorating further, it is stored in a room where the air quality, humidity, vapor, and other environmental factors can be easily controlled. Allow too many people to visit at a time and the painting might suffer damage.
The Cenacolo Vinciano Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15 am to 7 pm, with the last admittance at 6:45 pm. They’re closed on Mondays, January 1, May 1, and December 25, and more days as the pandemic requires.
Entrance is only allowed for up to 33 people at a time for 15 minutes. Since there are so few people with you, you really get the chance to gaze at the masterpiece without a throng of other tourists surrounding you.
How To Get The Last Supper Tickets
Option 1: Official Website
The easiest way to get tickets to the Last Supper is to book on the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum website months in advance. If you did that, you’d get tickets for Euro 15 each for adults and Eur 2 reservations. It’s also Eur 2 for those aged 18 to 25. But more often than not, those tickets have already been sold out long before you go to purchase them.
Entrance to the Last Supper is also free on the first Sunday of every month, but you need to call in advance and make a reservation. And yes, these free entry slots get sold out within hours of getting released. (Phone number for reservations – +39 02 92800360)
Your next best choice is to purchase a ticket from one of the online travel sites that sell them as guided tours.
Option 2: Tour Companies
There are many sites offering tickets to the Last Supper and most of them charge more, but given the popularity of the Last Supper, it’s often the only way to get to see it because the regular tickets are almost always sold out.
And if you do choose to book a tour through an online site, it’s best to pick one with a tour guide. A tour guide will provide you with a world of information about Da Vinci’s masterpiece and other artworks housed in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, as well as about the chapel and its history. Otherwise, you’ll be just staring at The Last Support for 10 minutes and might come out slightly disappointed.
How to Get Last Supper Tickets When Sold Out
GetYourGuide is one of the largest tour operators in Europe and offers a variety of different types of tickets to Da Vinci’s Last Supper:
- Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ and Milan Duomo
- Tour with an art historian
- Walking tour of Duomo Cathedral, Scala Theatre and The Last Supper
- Ancient monastery and see Da Vinci’s Last Supper
- Express tour to see the Last Supper
- Private guided tour
Another option is looking at Viator, another reputable tour company in Europe and beyond. They offer various ticket options to The Last Supper as well:
- Last Supper guided tour
- Skip the line to Duomo & The Last Supper
- Express Semi-Private tour to the Last Supper
What It Will Be Like Seeing The Last Supper
Just imagine an ordinary day in the life of a tourist till they are struck by the brilliance of something they’ve never seen before.
You need to arrive at the Santa Maria delle Grazie a good amount of time before your ticket slots so that you get entrance to the chapel. In the past, all you had to show was the ticket with the Cenacolo Vinciano printed on it and your name showing you as the entrant.
Once you enter the Museum everything works on time. It’ll feel almost like you’re in the military. You don’t enter the next room till someone has left it, and there are only so many of you at a time.
After a bit of getting used to it, you’ll love the peace and quiet you get to see the many displayed artworks in the Dominican monastery. And finally, you’ll reach the moment you’ve been waiting for, seeing the Last Supper or L’Ultima Cena.
The display of human emotions, the intensity of light and shadow, draws you in. The surprise on the faces of Bartholomew, James, and Andrew while Judas tips over the salt, angry Peter, stunned James and upset Thomas, the so many intricate details of the painting that feel so real.
When it’s almost time to leave you’ll hastily notice the Crucifixion painted by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano in 1495 on the wall of the refectory opposite the Last Supper. Leonardo added his touch to this painting too by adding in figures of the Sforza family using egg tempera paint.
Both paintings were commissioned by a member of the Sforza family, the Duke of Milan as a mausoleum before it was used as a refectory.
You’ll see and learn a lot more on a visit to The Last Supper, but let me not spoil it for you. Buy your ticket and go see for yourself!