How to Get Tickets to See Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper
With very strict control over how many people are allowed to view Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, you would be wise to start thinking about your visit early. The famous mural is located on the north wall of the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, situated in the heart of historic Milan. The room contains just two works of art: The Last Supper and Giovanni Donato da Montorfano's The Crucifixion. The two paintings are on opposite walls of the room. Given the historical significance of da Vinci’s work, getting to view the painting is one of the hottest tickets in Milan. That said, we did manage to get tickets on a recent trip to Milan, and I want to share the method we used so that you too can have this once in a lifetime opportunity to view da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Last Supper.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.— Leonardo da Vinci
Avoid Pricey Tours
There are a few methods that you can use to get tickets to the Last Supper. The one that many people use and the one that will cost you the most money is to hire a guide or sign onto a tour unaffiliated with the church. A quick search of tour companies offering this service produced prices ranging from $50 to well over $100 per person. Granted, some of these include viewing the Last Supper as part of a three-hour tour of Milan, but seeing the Last Supper as part of a Milan tour will take up a good hour of your tour time, which means less time to see other sites. If you want to take a tour of Milan, which I highly recommend, do it without including the Last Supper, this way you get to actually see more of Milan.
Official Website for Last Supper Tickets
The other way to acquire tickets and save a lot of money at the same time, which is the method we used, is to visit the official website of the Last Supper. I will post the site here so you can use it, but also because there are many sites that want you to believe that they are the official site. There is only one and this is it.
When you enter the site you can select English or Italian, this is located in the upper left corner of the page. You want the link titled “Cenacolo Vinciano”. You can’t miss it. Below is a screenshot of the homepage of the Last Supper website, if it doesn't look like this then you probably have the wrong site.
Before I get too far into this be aware that they open up tickets for sale in two-month blocks, usually a few months prior to the date of entry. So, if you are hoping to see the Last Supper on say, September 10th, I would start checking the website as early as May. A quick check right now shows that tickets for May and June of 2018 opened for sale on February 13th. With only thirty people allowed in at a time, and for only fifteen minutes, you can understand why tickets are difficult to come by. Also, the large tour groups purchase blocks of tickets well in advance to resell at a marked up premium, which only makes it more difficult for you to obtain tickets.
From the website, you have two ways to get tickets. You can search their online calendar for open dates and time slots, and try to secure your tickets online. I tried this method well ahead of time using a phony date just to see how the site works, and I must say that I had mixed results. I would click on an open date and an open time slot only to be greeted with a message saying that there were no tickets for that time and date.
Given the uncertainty that I met with, I decided that I would simply call the ticket office when the time came. Certainly, if you can get the website to work then use it. I tried it again recently while writing this article and it did seem to work just fine. You will have to take the time of year you are visiting into consideration when trying to get tickets. We were visiting in early September, a busy time of year for tourists so undoubtedly I was not the only one trying to get tickets. When I tried the website in February it was most likely not as busy, which may explain why it worked. If you have difficulty like I did you can always call the ticket office.
Deciding to call the ticket office ensures at least one sleepless night during this process, especially if calling from the United States. With the time change between Italy and the east coast of the United States being six hours, this means being up at 2 am to call immediately when the ticket office opens. You can certainly call at any time of the day, but if you're like me you'll want to call as early as possible to ensure getting tickets for your desired time.
As is usually the case with these things be prepared for something to go awry. When I called to purchase our tickets I got up a little before 2 am, called, and got a busy signal. I hit the redial button, and busy again. Ugh! After perhaps thirty redials I finally got through and was able to secure six tickets for an English speaking tour on the date and time that I wanted. Be persistent, you will eventually get through. The phone system for getting tickets does prompt you for English so I did speak with a rep that spoke excellent English in case you're worried about the language barrier.
Last Supper Visitor Information
Ticket Office Hours: 8 am to 6:30 pm, Monday to Saturday.
Viewing Hours: 8:15 am to 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday.
Phone: +39 02 92800360
There is a limit of 5 tickets, although I did buy 6 when I called.
- Full: 10 euro plus a 2 euro advance booking fee.
- EU member age 18 to 25 and EES teachers: 5 euro plus 2 euro booking fee.
- Under 18: Free plus 2 euro booking fee.
- English Guided Tour: 3.50 euro. Offered daily at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm.
- Italian Guided Tour: 3.50 euro. Offered daily at 10 am and 4 pm.
- Entrance to the church is free, the refectory containing the Last Supper is adjacent to the church.
- About a 20-minute walk from the Duomo.
- Green MM2 line to Cadorna stop.
- Red MM1 line to the Conciliazione stop.
- Tram 18 Corso Magenta stop.
A refectory is a dining room found in convents, monasteries, and academic institutions. The room containing the Last Supper is such a room, although today it is devoid of any dining room furniture. During the late 15th century when Leonardo da Vinci was working on the painting the room was the dining hall for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
What to Expect on Your Visit
On the day of your visit make sure you arrive at least twenty minutes prior to your viewing time. We arrived early and used the time to tour the church, which is adjacent to the convent. Before entering the refectory where the painting is located you will have an opportunity to see photos of the convent following bombing during World War II. There are also a number of placards detailing the history of the painting, which make for interesting reading.
Prior to entering the refectory your tickets will be collected and you will be ushered into a chamber where you will spend approximately five minutes getting dehumidified. This removes moisture from your skin and clothing, and helps to protect the painting.
The other thing I highly recommend if you plan on seeing the Last Supper is to try and snag one of the tours that the church offers. They are offered in Italian and English for only an additional 3.5 euro, and they do a wonderful job of explaining the history of the painting, it definitely adds to the experience.
After entering the refectory you will have 15 minutes to view the two works of art. Photos are allowed but no flash photography is permitted. There is a guard present in the refectory at all times and at the end of your allotted time he will announce that it is time to leave. If you try and linger you will be ushered out by the guard. The exit deposits you into a small gift shop, which does have some unique and interesting gifts to take home with you.
The entire viewing process is strictly controlled, and to be honest, it works perfectly and prevents mobs of people trying to view the painting.
So, was it all worth it? Absolutely! This was in all likelihood our only opportunity to ever see the Last Supper. When you are standing there in front of it, listening to the history of this painting, and all that it has endured over the centuries it is hard to fathom that it is still here for us to enjoy.
Good luck, you will need at least a little luck to get tickets for the day and time you want. Hopefully, my experience will help in some way on your journey to see one the world’s great works of art, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
Ciao for now.