On our last trip to Milan there was one work by Leonardo da Vinci that I knew I wanted to see. The problem was – the more I searched, the more confused I was about how to buy tickets to see the Last Supper.
Only 20 people are allowed inside to see the Last Supper at any given time so the experience is incredibly moving but it also means that the tickets are limited and hard to get. There are also tons of unofficial ticket websites trying to sell you tickets at a huge mark up because they know how many people want to see the masterpiece.
Here is how I managed to see the artwork the official way, why you should make the effort to visit, and every way you can buy tickets to see the Last Supper – even when they seem to be sold out.
How to Get Tickets to the Last Supper
Because only small groups are permitted into the rectory that houses the Last Supper at any given time, you have the space and the relative solitude to admire the masterpiece in a way that would never be possible with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
If you will be in Milan, book your Last Supper tickets online as far in advance as possible. If you are left with only an early morning option –take it. It will be worth it.
(NOTE: the Last Supper is called “Cenacolo Vinciano” in Italian and this is how it will be listed on the online ticket site).
If there are no tickets left online and you cannot get through on the phone (which they rarely answer), I recommend trying to find a spot via Tiqets. Tiqets is a re-seller of Last Supper tickets, so instead of €12, the cost is €25 but the system is easy to use and it is A LOT cheaper than some of the other online resellers.
If that is sold out, you next best bet is to take a tour of the Last Supper. This includes the ticket into the chapel where you can see the fresco in, as well as a guided visit to the Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Or, if you plan to do a lot of different activities in Milan, I suggest the Milan CityPass. The pass includes tickets to the Last Supper, an airport transfer to get you into the city, skip-the-line tickets to visit the Milan Duomo, entrance to La Scala and Sforza Castle, plus 20% off other major Milan attractions. It is the best way to see Da Vinci’s work as part of a more inclusive Milan sightseeing tour.
Finally, you can try to go in person to see if there have been any cancellations. If you are standing across the street from the church, the ticket office is to the left. You will need to have a bit of luck to get any this way because most of them have been snapped up months in advance.
Visiting the Last Supper
When the alarm rang at 7:30 am, I had to scratch through the daze of not-quite-enough-sleep to understand where I was and why I was being jarred into consciousness. With the only Last Supper tickets available at an 8:45 am timeslot, we had to get moving.
At the time of booking, we had convinced ourselves that an early start would be fortifying.
Looking out at the Milan rain, I was less sure.
A brisk walk from the Duomo, we arrived at Santa Maria delle Grazie 20 minutes before our stated reservation time. Arriving at the ticket office in person 20 minutes early is required in order to confirm your entry.
While many many many tour companies offer re-sale tickets (which you might need if all the online reservations are gone) you can also book tickets directly with the museum using vivaticket. I was determined to buy the tickets myself, rather than pay a middleman.
Directly through vivaticket, the entrance to the Last Supper is 10 euros, with a 2 euro surcharge applied per ticket. A third party tour company will charge much more. I was able to pay with an American credit card with no issues.
Print your confirmation and bring it with you to pick up your physical tickets at the Last Supper’s ticket office.
You are allowed into the building 10 minutes before your starting time. (We walked across the street to pass the other 10 minutes with a much-needed coffee). Once inside the building, there is a bit of background information to read while you wait.
What I didn’t expect was the high tech crowd management system that they use for regulating entrance to the Last Supper. Once you leave the lobby, everything is strictly time controlled, with doors opening to let you into different waiting rooms via timers. Walking through a series of automatic doors, you are finally admitted into the rectory that is home to the famous fresco as the group ahead of you is filtering out another door.
Being an artist, Jimmy is also an art history buff. He had told me that the fresco began deteriorating just 20 years after Da Vinci completed. I expected the Last Supper to be heavily damaged.
While it IS faded, the fresco is actually well restored.
The perspective is masterful.
The table stretches the entire length of the fall, with perfectly positioned figures posed in various directions.
The tablecloth is creased, as though it was rapidly unfolded before being laid out for this final dinner.
Da Vinci has painted two walls into his fresco, giving the illusion of an entire room behind the diners. The vanishing point draws your eyes to Jesus – serenely gazing out from the center of the artwork.
There is another fresco in the room, but really all eyes are on the Last Supper. It is mesmerizing.
Seeing the Last Supper in person is unforgettable but you only have 15 minutes with the masterpiece. I recommend learning as much as possible before you go inside so that you can appreciate all that makes Da Vinci’s painting so special.
Ready to visit? Grab your tickets to the Last Supper and start counting down the days.
Please note that the link to Tiqets and the tour is an affiliate link and I may be compensated if you choose to utilize the links. This is at no additional cost to you. You are not obligated to click on any link or buy any products that are advertised. The official site for tickets to the Last Supper is Vivaticket, as detailed in the post above.