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Italy: Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Milan

Da Vinci's The Last Supper at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan

I would never call myself an art buff, far from it in fact. I do however like art especially from the High Renaissance period. Michelangelo and Da Vinci especially strike a cord with me. I have been lucky enough to previously admire Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence and the breathtaking Sistine Chapel ceiling within the Vatican, Vatican City. So when Mr ESLT booked us tickets to see The Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church on a recent trip to Milan I was very excited.

Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, Milan
Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, Milan

We walked to Santa Maria delle Grazie from our B&B (a 5 minutes walk from the Duomo) which took us approximately 30 minutes. There are, of course, many ways you can get here from Piazza del Duomo (Milan’s central square). You could jump on the metro (M1 line) and get off at the Conciliazione stop which is a 5 minute walk from the church all in all taking 13 minutes. Or jump on the number 16 tram from the Duomo which stops right outside Santa Maria delle Grazie and takes 11. However you decide how to get there please remember to book your tickets in advance as they may be sold out when you get there.

Panoramic of sign on the floor outside Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
Panoramic of sign on the floor outside Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan

Mr ESLT booked our tickets in March for our visit in May via getyourguide.com at a cost of £21 per person and struggled to get tickets. So much so the only tickets he could find included a guided tour in ITALIAN. Yes we have been to Italy half a dozen times but still between us I think we only know 10 Italian words (tut!) so the Italian tour was a bit useless for us. It didn’t matter though as we were still going to see The Last Supper and that was all that counted.

Ticket Office at Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, Milan
Ticket Office at Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, Milan

When we did arrive at Santa Maria delle Grazie I explained to one of the guides that we had tickets for a guided Italian tour however didn’t speak Italian. This wasn’t a problem and informed us that for an additional €8 we could hire an English audio guide. Which we did. I did have to leave my driving licence as a security deposit in case I made off with their audio equipment and retrieved it with no problem when we gave the equipment back. I believe they have audio guides in a number of different languages if needed.

Audio Guide at Santa Maria Delle Grazie used when visiting Da Vinci's The Last Supper
Audio Guide at Santa Maria Delle Grazie used when visiting Da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Santa Maria delle Grazie has a gothic style nave with renaissance style apse and dome and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The Last Supper sits within it’s refectory behind a number of air tight doors. Viewing is restricted to small groups and to a maximum of 15 minutes to try and preserve the painting for as long as possible. The Italian guide stood with the rest of the group giving information of the painting which allowed Mr ESLT and I to listen to our audio guide and walk around the room looking at the painting (which measures 460cm x 880cm) from various angles.

Sign at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
Sign at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan

The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci between 1494 and 1499 and depicts the story of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, as told in the Gospel of John, 13:21 when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. Now I’m not an avid church goer but I’m sure everyone knows the story? I remember learning about it at primary school. The paining is fabulous it truly is a sight to behold however very little of the original painting remains due to environmental reasons. Therefore, a number of restoration attempts have been carried out, most recently in 1999. Around 1652 someone thought it would be a good idea to put a door in the wall where The Last Supper is painted therefore slap bang in the middle at the bottom of the painting is an ugly concreted up doorway (idiot!)

Da Vinci's The Last Supper at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
Da Vinci’s The Last Supper at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan

If seeing this masterpiece in all its glory isn’t enough you get a 2 for 1 offer as on the opposite wall to The Last Supper you will find ‘The Crucifixion’ which as the title suggests depicts the crucifixion of Jesus and dates back to roughly the same period which was painted by Giovanni Donato Montorfano. Not as well-known as The Last Supper but it’s well worth taking a few of your allocated 15 minutes to check it out. There is a strict no photography rule within the room which everyone adhered to. A beautiful painting. I’m very pleased that I got the opportunity to see it.

Entrance to Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
Entrance to Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan
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1 comment on “Italy: Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Milan

  1. Pingback: 2015 Travel Round Up | EatSleepLoveTravel

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