We had to get up early today to get to the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. That’s where we picked up our tickets to view Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper or Il Cenacola. We had reservations for the 8:45 am viewing, but needed to be there by 8:20 am.
There were many people waiting for their entrance time or in line to buy tickets when we arrived at the piazza. Since we had purchased our reservation online, we were ushered right up to the counter to exchange the voucher for our tickets.
There was one enterprising gentleman there selling many different souvenirs. You could buy items such as DaVinci T-Shirts, photos of the painting, charts with all the apostles named so you’d know who you were looking at, key chains and even umbrellas in case it started to rain while you were waiting. The only thing missing was the menu from the actual dinner!
The painting is not in a gallery or hanging in a church. The painting is a mural that was painted on a wall in the refectory of a convent. At one point the room was used as a dining hall for the monks after they took over the convent.
It is thought that DaVinci painted it between 1495 and 1498. The method he used along with environmental factors like humidity and intentional damage through the years has left very little of the original painting. What you see is the result of many attempted restorations. That said, it’s still powerful.
When our time arrived, we entered the first of three rooms used to reduce the humidity before you are allowed into the refectory. After two or three minutes you move on to room two; then two or three minutes later it’s on to room three. We are now de-humidified and ready to go.
When the doors open, we had fifteen minutes to view the artwork. We were lucky enough to see it once before, but it didn’t takeaway from seeing it again.
As most know, I am not a devotee of the arts. That said, this is another of the paintings that we have seen that I find mesmerizing. I’m not sure why, but there is something that just leaves me feeling inspired.
This time, they even allowed photos to be taken. I think with everyone having phones with cameras, they just gave up trying to monitor people, not to mention that there are already so many pictures of it available.
On the opposite wall of the refectory is a painting called ‘The Crucifixion’, which was painted by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano. It is another beautiful mural, but usually just glanced at by the people who come to see the Last Supper. However, you will be able to win trivia contest prizes with the info I provided.
When your time is up, you leave through one door, while the next group completes their dehumidifying process before entering. The passage out takes you through the cloister and along a garden path with a small exhibit related to the painting.
Since we were feeling spiritual, we walked over to the nearby Church of San Maurizio to see some additional artwork by Bernardino Luini, the artist whose work we had seen in Lugano.
Our next stop was at Milan’s Duomo. It is such a beautiful building and is a must- see when visiting Milan; however, the number of scammers and hucksters working the crowds is truly upsetting. It lost its reverence and its appeal from my standpoint. They really need to rethink how these people are allowed to ruin the experience before the tourism dollars dry up. Personally, I’m not sure I would go back.
We walked over to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and did a little window shopping. All the ritzy brands are represented and the fashions are interesting – some more than others.
Making our way through the galleria, we found the restaurant we were hoping to go to in the evening. We were able to make a reservation and then off we went – it was time to get something to eat since we had missed breakfast. We found a small place that was more of a juice bar, but Sue grabbed a quick yogurt. While she was eating that, we noticed a place right nearby that had fresh made panini sandwiches waiting for the lunch crowds.
We made sure they were serving, grabbed a table and enjoyed our paninis. A glass of prosecco helped keep us hydrated and the best part, besides the delicious sandwiches, was that they were 5.50 Euros Now that was a bargain !
As we were finishing, the lunch crowds started to arrive, so our timing was perfect. After a quick stop at the Church of San Tommaso, we found the back way to our hotel, so we didn’t have to deal with the crowds and noise. I think the problem was we had just come from the relative peace and tranquillity of Switzerland and were now in the middle of a big, bustling city – I’m not just grouchy!
We decided to relax for a while, since we woke up so early. We both ended up dozing off – I guess we were tired.
We showered and dressed and then headed off to dinner. We took the route we had discovered earlier and arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early. For whatever reason, we were given a primo table in the center of the restaurant and loved it. Our waiter started out a little stiff, but soon we had him laughing along with us. According to him, Sue is lucky to find one like me.
We enjoyed our meals and a bottle of Brunello. The food was delicious and the meat was so tender you barely needed a knife. It was a great way to finish up in Milan. We left on a high note!