One of the main things on nearly every must-see list for visitors to Milan is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco, “The Last Supper.” What many don’t realize before they get to Milan, however, is that the painting can be tough to see if you’re not planning ahead. It’s only possible to see the fragile fresco for 15 minutes before your timed entry is up and you’re ushered out, so tickets are booked up well in advance. With a 15-minute time limit, however, it’s still completely worth it to see “The Last Supper.”
“The Last Supper” adorns one wall of a former dining hall adjacent to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. The room itself is huge, but the famous painting is really the only thing to see in that room – the rest of the room is essentially empty. You’re not allowed to get very close to the painting, nor are you allowed to take photographs or video, in order to prevent any potential damage to the fresco from an accidental bump of the arm or the light from cameras. It’s this same focus on conservation that’s behind the 15-minute time limit.
The temperature and moisture level in the dining hall are constantly being monitored – just to get into the room you’ll pass through a few sealed doorways – so the number of people admitted in each 15-minute increment is strictly limited. They keep the groups moving on schedule, too, so they can accommodate all the people who wait outside to see the painting. The best part about this is that there are no crowds to fight to get a good view of “The Last Supper” – you’ll have the best view any visitor can have, no matter when you go.
It’s a very good idea to rent the audioguide that’s available – it’s perfectly timed to the 15 minutes you’ve got to see “The Last Supper,” and it helpfully points out different parts of the painting that you might otherwise miss. You may also consider a guided Milan tour that includes “The Last Supper,” especially if your guide will be explaining the painting’s significance in person.
In any case, there’s nothing like seeing this da Vinci masterpiece in person, and the 15-minute time limit (as well as the other precautionary rules) are designed to keep the painting from deteriorating any more quickly than it already has. We want to make sure it’s visible for future generations, after all. So book your “The Last Supper” tickets ahead of time, and relish your 15 minutes with this unforgettable piece of art.