Plan your Visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the second most famous painting in the world after the other da Vinci masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. The superstar 15th-century mural is probably the most duplicated painting on the planet. It shows up on posters, placemats, calendars, mouse pads and any other flat surface humanity can print a picture on. It’s everywhere, and it has become one of Milan’s most famous attractions. For that reason, The Last Supper tickets are in high demand. Unfortunately, many visitors never get to see this artwork.
Access to The Last Supper is strictly limited to protect the fragile painting. Entry is only allowed every 15 minutes with a maximum of 30 people at any given time. This means visitors must pre-book online well in advance to secure a spot to see it.
Order Your Last Supper Tickets Far in Advance
Perhaps the best piece of advice we can give visitors is to start investigating the booking process as soon as you realize you want to visit Milan. Our trip to the city was a rather last-minute decision, so we only started looking for The Last Supper tickets the week before we arrived. Since we were visiting WAY off season, we assumed we would have no problems getting a spot. We were wrong.
When we visited Vivaticket’s official booking site (see navigation tips just below), we discovered the first available Last Supper tickets were 12 days later, the very last day of our visit to Milan. Yikes, that was close! During peak travel times, spots to see The Last Supper can be booked out months in advance. If you can’t get Last Supper tickets through Vivaticket, the official site, consider taking a tour through a company which has pre-booked tickets for its tours. Check out Viator’s Last Supper tours, which come in many combinations. Below are just a few. You can click on the thumbnail photos to find out more about the various The Last Supper tours and the current prices.
- Price: $52.33
- Price: $53.52
You can also try these companies for availability. They all offer The Last Supper tickets as part of a tour package: Take Walks, Veltra City Discovery, and, again, Viator. For other reputable tour companies, see our section "Plan Your Trip to Milan" below.
How to Buy Last Supper Tickets through the Official Booking Site
1. Go to the official Last Supper booking page by clicking on this link to Vivaticket. It takes you to the "Cenacolo Vinciano" page, which is Italian for The Last Supper. If the page is not in English, switch the language in the upper right corner.
2. Before you can make a booking on Vivaticket, you have to sign up for an account. Click the button at the top of the page that says "Register". Alternatively, before you register, you can check if there are Last Supper tickets available for the time you are visiting (follow instructions below). If there are no available tickets, there's no need to register.
3. At the top of the page under "CENACOLO VINCIANO", it shows you a date range; this is the time period for which you can buy tickets at the moment. Then scroll down to the calendar.
4. Vivaticket's "pre-sale opening" announcement under the calendar is a bit confusing. Basically, this shows you that you cannot book too far in advance. For example, "13th February opening reservation for May and June" means that if you want to book The Last Supper tickets for May or June, you have to wait until February 13 before booking is even possible.
5. Check the calendar for available dates and tickets. You can change months by clicking the > symbol on the calendar. Days with available The Last Supper tickets are highlighted in green. Click your desired day. (If there is no availability for your preferred day, it is worth checking back over the next few days to see if there are any cancellations.)
6. When you click your desired day, a selection of available time slots opens up. Available times are also highlighted in green. To see how many The Last Supper tickets are available for that time slot, hover over the highlighted time with your cursor. Click your desired time slot.
7. Most people will need to select the "Intero" for full priced The Last Supper tickets. Presumably, if you qualify for any of the discounts, you will be able to read them. As of 2020, the price for a Last Supper entry ticket is 12 euros per person.
8. After signing in or registering and agreeing to Europe's data protection regulations, select the number of tickets you want to buy next to "Intero" (you can only purchase a maximum of five Last Supper tickets in one booking) and click "buy". This takes you to the next page. After clicking on "Warning: Missing some fields" next to the price, you are asked to enter the first and last name of the "reservation owner". This should be the name of a person in your group who can show a valid ID upon picking up your tickets at the convent. (Note: You can use the same name on all tickets; person paying and person picking up tickets don't have to be identical.) From there, the steps are pretty straightforward. Just make sure you read through everything. You will have to complete payment, print The Last Supper tickets and bring them with you to the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Here is a link to the convent on Google Maps.
It may feel like a lot of work for a painting, but - hey - it's The Last Supper. ALSO, the museum offers free admission the first Sunday of every month; however, you still have to make a ticket reservation. Vivaticket doesn't allow reserving the free tickets through their online system, but requires visitors to call the Vivaticket call center. (For their phone number and operating hours, see "Plan Your Trip to Milan" at the end of this article.)
What to Expect from Your Visit to The Last Supper
The visit itself is quite hilarious. First, we waited outside for our time slot. Second, a guard herded us into a pre-waiting room where they verified that we all had The Last Supper tickets for the correct time slot. Next, they scanned our tickets and compressed us into a Bond-style, climate-controlled glass room. Finally, you enter the refectory containing the painting.
Even though both of us had seen the painting in documentaries, The Last Supper was larger and more impressive than we expected. We stared up - way up - in disbelief oohing and ahhing in the presence of greatness. Then we debated the enigmatic V-shape at the center of the painting which served as a major plot point in The Da Vinci Code. Afterwards, we eyed John the Apostle - he sure did look like Mary Magdalene to us! Maybe Dan Brown was on to something.
After 13 of our 15 allotted minutes with the painting, we turned around to discover that there was another painting on the opposite wall, Crucifixion by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano. As you can see in the photo above, a single man - a clear rebel - defied convention and stood alone admiring the magnificent fresco. In contrast to The Last Supper, the massive work was well preserved and full of detail and color. Somehow, it had never occurred to us that there was a second painting in the refectory. Poor da Montorfano, da Vinci stole all his glory.
We took one last moment to take in Crucifixion and glanced back at The Last Supper as a woman screamed hysterically over a loudspeaker trying to get our group out at the precise minute we were required to exit. Her booming voice echoed through the room reverberating off the walls. I'm sure that future generations will add that loudspeaker to the long list of atrocities that have been committed against da Vinci's masterpiece. We turned and quickly exited for posterity.
Don't Miss the Amazing San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
If you've read this far, you must be a real art lover and therefore you deserve an extra tip, right? After all, seeing The Last Supper is just one of the cool things to do in Milan. The gorgeous San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is just a few blocks down the street from Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie and its interior is a major highlight. Every square inch of the interior is covered in 16th-century frescoes. And entry is FREE! Make sure to walk through the little door on the left to see the stunning Hall of Nuns with more frescoes. And if you need even more, the courtyard behind the church contains remnants of the Roman-era wall (with a surviving tower) that once surrounded Milan. Fantastic!
And Finally, a Few Last Supper Facts for Art and History Buffs
When Did Leonardo Paint The Last Supper?
Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper in the late 15th century, between 1494-1498.
How Big Is The Last Supper?
The painting is much bigger than you might expect; it is 29 feet by 15 feet, or 8.8 meters by 4.6 meters.
Is Today's Mural the Same as da Vinci's Original?
When da Vinci was asked to paint The Last Supper on a wall in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, he chose to paint on dry wall rather than on wet plaster as is traditionally done in frescoes. This meant that the famous painting started to deteriorate almost immediately.
As if that weren’t problem enough, The Last Supper has a history of abuse which would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. French troops actually used this refectory as a stall! And Allied troops dropped a bomb on the neighboring church!!! Ah, humanity.
Sadly, after many restorations, only few of da Vinci's original brush strokes remain.
What Happened to Jesus' Feet?
In case you wonder, a doorway was cut into the wall in 1652, right where da Vinci had painted Jesus' feet. What makes this somewhat excusable is that the painting was in such bad shape at the time, it was hardly recognizable. The doorway was later filled in and painted over.
Why is The Last Supper Not in a Museum?
It would be almost impossible to move The Last Supper from Santa Maria delle Grazie because da Vinci painted the famous mural directly onto a wall in the convent's dining hall.
Did da Vinci Ever Paint The Last Supper in Oil?
He never did, but two of his assistants painted exact copies of The Last Supper in the early 16th century. You can find Giampietrino's copy in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and Cesare da Sesto's copy in the Church of St. Ambrogio in Ponte Capriasca in Switzerland. Another copy by Andrea Solari is displayed in the Tongerlo Abbey's Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium.
Recently, London's Royal Academy of Arts partnered with Google Arts and Culture to digitize The Last Supper painted by Giampietrino. This high-resolution digital version features many more details than the painting in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Among those are Thomas' raised finger, Jesus's feet, and a salt shaker knocked over by Judas. To check out the incredible details, go to Google Arts & Culture.
Plan Your Trip to Milan
When to Go - Milan's climate is characterized by hot humid summers and cold foggy winters. Best time to visit is spring (April to May) and fall (September to October). We went in December, between Christmas and New Years and absolutely loved it. Yes, it was chilly, but the holiday festivities made up for it.
The Last Supper Museum Hours – The refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses The Last Supper, is closed on Mondays. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15 AM to 7:00 PM. If you happen to visit on the first Sunday of the month, Last Supper tickets are free. However, you have to reserve the free tickets by calling the Vivaticket call center ahead of time. By the way, they do speak English. From outside of Italy, call +39 0292800360 (39 is the country code for Italy), from inside of Italy call 800990084 toll-free. Again, you cannot purchase Last Supper tickets at the museum in Milan directly. You can purchase tickets either through Vivaticket - online or by phone - OR from a reputable tour operator.
The Last Supper Tours – The cheapest tickets for The Last Supper are available on Vivaticket, the museum's official website. However, these entry tickets are often booked out in advance. If this is the case, you can always try to join a guided tour to see The Last Supper. There are many reputable tour operators, some of which are Veltra City Discovery, Viator, Dark Rome, or Take Walks, a fantastic company which we have personally used and can highly recommend.
Accommodation - Milan has plenty of accommodation, but during high season from April through October, make sure to book early. We recommend searching for great hotel deals in Milan on our two favorite hotel booking sites: booking.com and agoda.
If you plan to stay for more than a few nights, we recommend booking an apartment through Airbnb (which we did). If you haven’t used Airbnb before and you click through this link here, you get a credit toward your first stay. The amount varies, but it’s usually between $30 and $40. Not too bad.
Bringing your furry friend along for your trip? Read more here.
Guidebooks – We always travel with Lonely Planet guides. They are great for historical and cultural information, maps, walking tours, highlights, and itineraries. For Milan, you have several options, from more specific to more general. You can use the Pocket Milan Guide, the Lonely Planet Italy, or the Lonely Planet Europe if you are planning to travel to other European countries. If you prefer a more visual guidebook, we recommend the DK Eyewitness guide: Milan & the Lakes.
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