Inforamtion for your trip to the Last Supper in Milan, Italy,

The Last Supper was top on our list to visit when we first arrived in Milan back in 2010. What we didn’t realize is that it was closed the only day we could visit. Rookie mistake. What we… and perhaps you might not know is that tickets to see the Last Supper must be reserved in advance.  

This post contains affiliate links that help keep this website running. By purchasing through our links, we make a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you for your support!

Since September 1980 the Last Supper, along with the church and the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Santa Maria delle Grazie, church where the Last Supper is located,
Santa Maria delle Grazie

Did You Know?

  • During World War II, on the night of August 15, 1943, an Allied aerial bombardment hit the church and the convent of Saint Maria delle Grazie. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but a few walls survived, including the one that holds the Last Supper painting. Church attendants sand-bagged it in order to protect it. It was a miracle it survived.
  • Painted between 1494 and 1498, the Last Supper, is considered perhaps the most important mural painting in the world. Did you know it is considered a “mural” and not a “fresco”?
    Preserving this delicate painting while allowing the public to admire it is a daily challenge to the restorers. There is a large team of architects and art historians who watch over this masterpiece to preserve it for future generations.
  • This mural ranks at the top of the list of the world’s most recognizable and famous artworks in the world. It captures the moment when Jesus tells the apostles that one of them will betray him.
  • The painting measures 29 feet long by 15 feet high covering the entire end wall of what was once the convent’s dining hall. The friars would have eaten their meals while gazing at this masterpiece.
  • It took Leonardo four years to complete this painting. 
The Last Supper in Milan, Italy,

How Was It Done

Leonardo did not use the traditional fresco technique to paint the Last Supper. He chose a method that would enable him to paint on dry plaster and work very slowly, enabling him to make changes as he painted.

Instead of painting directly on wet plaster, the “fresco technique,” Leonardo used a dry technique, applying pigments to a white preparatory layer, which served to level and smooth the wall. This technique didn’t allow the color to be absorbed by the plaster. Rather, it is a bit “suspended” and more fragile than using the fresco technique. This technique made the painting lose pigment almost immediately after the painting was completed.

Most of us are aware that the fresco technique requires the artist to work rapidly and does not allow for subsequent alterations, because the painter has to work on portions of plaster while it is still damp. A previous post describes this fresco technique. Once it dries, no changes can be made. So, it is reported that this technique was poorly suited to Leonardo’s slow and meticulous approach to this work.

Fun 14-day travel planners and notebooks designed by Ilene Modica are available on -

Less than a thousand people a day are allowed to visit the Last Supper

Notice Anything Odd in the Photo Above?

Leonardo did indeed paint Christ’s feet in the original masterpiece. It is said that around the year 1650, someone (no one can determine exactly whom) decided that the refectory needed another door and the only logical spot for this door was right in the middle of that wall and painting. 

Art historians believe back then, the painting wasn’t appreciated as it is today. Still, I wonder why the people involved didn’t think another location was more appropriate.

The Many Restorations of The Last Supper

closeup of Jesus in the Last Supper painting,

The image we see today offers only a faint memory of the masterpiece that was painted by Leonardo. It’s truly a shame that very little is left of the original painting. Our tour guide along with historical sources reports that the painting suffered considerable damage in just a few years after its completion. It is reported by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1625 that the painting was already showing signs of “falling flakes of paint”.

More than six restorations were attempted on the Last Supper painting between the years 1700 and 1900. The most recent and extensive took place in 1977.

Also in The Same Room as The Last Supper

There is also a fresco in the same refectory as the Last Supper. It is the Crucifixion dated 1495 by Giovanni Donato. This fresco is filled with activity with three crosses that rise above the scene. The cross in the middle of the scene holds Jesus, with Mary kneeling at the base of the cross, her arms wrapped around it.

Both paintings in the room of the Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie church,
Crucifixion dated 1495 by Giovanni Donato
Crucifixion dated 1495 by Giovanni Donato.

Giovanni Donato was an Italian painter of the Renaissance who was born, lived, and worked in Milan. Not much is known about him except that his father was also a painter who worked in the Milan Cathedral.

Before we left the room I began to wonder. How did this pretty much unknown painter get to paint a fresco in the same room as Leonardo Da Vinci?

Use our interactive map to find some nice places to stay in Milan:

About Tickets…

There are several sites you can purchase tickets to the Last Supper online. We used Viator for no particular reason other than it was easy to use. We also paid additionally for the audio guide. The experienced tour operator spoke in English and Italian, giving us great information about the artwork and the artist.

When purchasing the tickets, be prepared to have the names of each member of your party. Tickets are issued to individuals and, you must show identification when collecting the tickets at the office just to the left of the church, Santa Maria delle Grazie. The ticket names and IDs must match.

A great site to get great information before you go:

When to Purchase Tickets?

Booking in advance is a must. There is a slim chance there are tickets available on the spur of the moment. A maximum of 35 people at a time are allowed in the museum, which is part of the reason why tickets sell out fast, and viewing the painting is limited to 15 minutes.

At this time, reservation opportunities open every three months. This table should give you an idea of when to purchase:

To visit February, March, April:Tickets go on sale December 27th
To visit May, June, July:Tickets go on sale March 27th
To visit August, September, October:Tickets go on sale June 27th
To visit November, December, January:Tickets go on sale September 27th

Disclaimer: These dates can always change, check the official site here.

NOTE:  A maximum of 35 people at a time are allowed in the small museum, which is part of the reason why tickets sell out fast, and viewings are limited to 15 minutes.

Things To Know About Visiting The Last Supper

Here are some useful things to be aware of when visiting:

  • Again, you must bring a government-issued ID that matches each name on the tickets. Whether you book on your own or with a tour group, your ticket will be reserved in your name. You must bring your ID to verify your identity and ticket when you arrive.
  • Photo are allowed without flash but no videos
  • No large bags are allowed inside. There are free lockers you can use to secure them in the ticket office.
  • All bags (pocketbooks and such) will be searched before entering the first area
  • You need to arrive 30 minutes prior to your reservation time to physically obtain your entry tickets from the ticket “biglietto” office

How to Get There?

Map of location of the Last Supper,

Metro: Use the M1 Metro line and get off at the “Conciliazione” stop. It’s just a few minutes walk from the church and happens to be the same line you’d use to get to Sforza Castle or the Duomo. Milan has a clean and wonderful metro system.

Tram: Milan also has a great tram system and using Line 16, you will get off at Santa Maria delle Grazie. You can use this line if going after visiting the Duomo.

Uber or Taxi: We used Uber for the entire two days of visiting due to the heat. It was very reasonable and I enjoyed working on my Italian with the drivers.

Walking: It is about a 25-minute walk from the Duomo to the church, and 20 minutes from the Sforza Castle.

The Last Supper Conclusion

Ilene and Gary Modica in front of the Last Supper in Milan, Italy,

It took us 13 years to get back to Milano to see this incredible painting by Leonardo. Why? I wish I had an answer for you, and me for that matter. Our youngest daughter and Brett were visiting Lucca and leaving for their next destination from Milan – so we jumped at the chance to visit this city again, and at least give it more than a 24-hour visit. It was just a day stopover back in 2010.

We enjoyed some fantastic restaurants, Ally went shopping – I guess we did too just a bit. We didn’t do hardly as much damage though, thank goodness! We stayed at a beautiful hotel, The Westin Palace. It wasn’t as close to the Duomo as we initially thought, but a quick Uber drive got us right to the city center in just a few minutes.

I can tell you it won’t be 13 years before we return to Milan.

You also might like… How Frescos Were Made
The Last Supper pin,


  1. How timely! I’ve got tickets for August 30 and now with your informative post I am prepped for my visit. Grazie mille and glad you got to see it.

  2. Hi guys
    Looks like you had an amazing time- it’s such a beautiful place
    I took my kids there in 2016 and again this March – loved it!
    We spent 2 weeks in Milan at a really cool hotel, the NYX, right across the street from Milan Central train station. Made it so easy to do day trips via train- Parma, Como, few others- plus tons of nice trattorias around there and inside the station is a 2 story area with like 30 different food & drink places that’s so cool- we hung out there a few nights
    Keep it going- salute. Jeff

  3. Thank you for this in-depth information as we have not yet visited The Last Supper, for many of the same reasons that you mentioned. Thank you!

  4. Love the post. What I love even more is the photo of you and Gary at the close of the article! My favorite picture of you two! ❣️

  5. I appreciate the background information and first-hand knowledge. Hoping to get to Milan in the next couple of years, and this would definitely be something we would want to see.

    1. Thanks, Angelo! We were rookies the first time we tried to see it and you’re right- information like this would have helped us back then! If you can, it is most certainly worth the trip.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also enjoy: