While the people I’ve talked to have divided opinions about Milan, it’s undeniably a tourist destination for at least some of the people who visit Italy every year. The main sites people want to see are La Scala (especially if you’re an opera buff), the Duomo and da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The first two are easy to see – but to get in to see Leonardo’s fading masterpiece, you’ll need a reservation. And those are hard to come by.
First, some history:
In the refectory of the domenican convent adjoining the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, houses one of the world’s most celebrated works: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Painted between 1494 and 1498 under the rule of Ludovico il Moro, Leonardo abandoning the traditional method of fresco painting, depicted the scene a secco on the wall of the refectory.
Upon completion however, it was documented that this technique and enviromental factors had contributed to the eventual deterioration of the fresco, that has undergone numerous restorations.
The most recent being 1999, where various scientific methods were employed to restore the original colours and where possible to remove the traces of paint applied from previous attempts to restore the fresco.
The caretakers of the piece have taken great pains to preserve it, and that includes being very careful about the temperature of the room. In order to maintain an even temperature, “the visitor intake has been restricted to a group of 25 admitted every 15 minutes.” I don’t know if there are ways to get in at the last minute, but according to the reservations website, there are only a couple of slots available in late February – the rest of the month is already full.
The bottom line is that if you know you’ll be in Milan and you want to see the Last Supper, you’d better get a reservation quickly. Go to this page and click on the “Book Your Visit” button at the bottom.