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St. Augustine, Florida
October 28, 2009
From journal A Day in Milan
July 27, 2007
The Last Supper is one of Da Vinci’s greatest works. It depicts the scene of Jesus and his disciples as taken from the Bible in which Jesus announces to his compatriots that one of them will betray him in the end. Over the centuries, the fresco has deteriorated quite badly due to lack of care and poorly carried out restoration works. During the war, the church was bombed but miraculously, the fresco survived. To see this, you must have pre-arranged reservations and booking is often frustrating and difficult for it is very popular. There is an official website where you can buy tickets (2-3 months in advance) but it is better to call them directly because the operators speak English. The number to call is +39 (02) 89421146 but keep in mind of the time differences.
Tip: Use a cheap phone card ($5) to book all of your reservations to save money on your phone bill. When you get a date/time confirmed, the operator will give you a reservation code in which you need to bring with you when picking up the tickets. Do not forget it! You must show up 20-minutes prior to pick up the tickets. Only 25 people are allowed in each time to view the painting. After picking up your tickets, you’ll have a bit of time so you could check out the church next door while waiting (free). The cost of tickets is €6.50 per person plus a €1.50 reservation fee. The Last Supper is free during Italy’s Culture Week in which I was lucky enough to be in Milan during then! Getting to the Last Supper is easy. You need to take the metro and get off at either metro stops Conciliazione (Line M1) or Cadorna (Lines M1 or M2). It is a short walk from both stations to the Last Supper and there are signs indicating the direction you should take. A single ticket costs €1 but purchase two so you have a return trip. The Last Supper is truly breathtaking. It is much larger than you would expect for it takes up an entire wall. The details are blurrier than what you see in pictures or in books but for the most part, you can make out the important details. After viewing the Last Supper (15 minutes time), I was quite convinced that the person to the left of Jesus was Mary Magdalene because the figure is feminine. Being a fan of works about Mary, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this painting. No photography is allowed but there is a gift-shop so pick up one of the great books on the Last Supper or a postcard. The books are a bargain - €6 for a detailed book on the Last Supper! If you have a chance to stay in Milan or have a stopover, take the time to see this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – before the fresco deteriorates to the point where it cannot be restored properly.
From journal Milan Madness
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 8, 2004
One of the largest and most ingenious works created by the ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1495 to 1497 masterpiece is the most talked-about artwork after his "Mona Lisa", following the release of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
Since it was finished, art students have journeyed to Milan to view the work, which takes up a refectory wall in a Dominican convent next to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The painting has many dimensions, and the life-size depiction adds to the realism of the scene. The figures are grouped in a triangular Trinity formation (with Jesus in the middle).
The walls of the room in the painting appear to be continuations of the walls of the actual room you are standing in. The lines zoom in on Christ at the centre, drawing your eye towards his and helping to heighten the drama. Note the effects of the carefully worked interaction between the three sources of light-from the refectory itself, the windows painted in the background, and from the windows on the refectory’s left wall. Another detail that increases the illusion of reality is the colours of the disciples’ robes reflected in the glasses and pewter plates on the table.
Christ is set in front of a window, giving him the requisite halo effect without making it look as if he’s wearing a plate for a hat. Previously, Judas was often placed across the table from everyone else, but Leonardo’s approach positioned the traitor right among the other disciples.
Rather than paint in buon fresco (the method of applying pigment to wet plaster so that the colours bind with the base), Leonardo used oil paint on semi-dry plaster. Unfortunately, this technique caused the painting to deteriorate even before he had finished the work. To worsen matters, Napoleon’s troops used the fresco for target practice, and bombs during the Second World War destroyed the building’s roof. A recent restoration removed centuries of over-painting by early "restorers" and filled in the completely vanished bits with pale washes.
The painting is so popular that it is advisable to book at least two days or a week ahead of your visit during the spring season-or be disappointed. It is open between Tuesday and Sunday between 8am and 7:30pm. It costs 6,50€, plus a 1€ booking fee. It is free to all EU citizens under 18 or over 65. There is an informative audio guide, which helps to explain why such a deteriorated fresco is nevertheless so important. And a few blocks from Via Magenta at Via Carducci 13 is a Bar Magenta, which takes up a wide corner and is a pleasing blend of Art Nouveau café and Guinness pub.
From journal Milanese Musicale
San Francisco, California
April 26, 2001
From journal Milan- A Real Italian Experience