The Art Spring in Milan: Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Last Supper

The last supper

Milan and its priceless treasures. Even the great Italian fast-paced city of business, with its frowns and busy faces has its poetic side that it jealously guards in places of inestimable value. Like the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo’s Last Supper, which are UNESCO World Heritage since 1980, the second Italian site after Rome to gain such recognition. So in the spring, the church, which is one of the most successful expressions of Renaissance art, is transformed into a romantic corner. At the Via Caradosso entrance, from late March to May, four magnolias blossom at the sides of the fountain and it only takes a second to forget that you are in the bustling center of Milan.

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the peaks of the Renaissance artistic excellence in Milan. The architecture of the building, commissioned by Duke Ludovico il Moro as a mausoleum for his family, dates back to 1492-1493. Donato Bramante designed the extraordinary space and light of the grandstand, built on the form of a circle inscribed in a square. Like a cube of massive proportions with a hemispherical dome in the center, the platform differs significantly from the language array of Gothic naves, but at the same time it inserts in it harmoniously in a way that is exciting in the eyes of the visitor.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Then there is the north wall of the church refectory, which attracts tourists from all over the world, art lovers and Milanese people who just are in love with the sublime vision of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. This painting, generated by the creative genius of his universal talent is a must for anyone visiting Milan. The Last Supper is a representation of a unique moment, where all the feelings of humanity get mixed: doubt, excitement, amazement, emotion .. The scene described in  Leonardo’s Last Supper tells the time immediately following that in which Jesus announces: “One of you will betray me.” The twelve Apostles sitting at the table with Jesus react with conflicting passions, intense expressions and different gestures. The details are shown in a refined way: the light is clear and cold, the crystal of the glasses is transparent, the folds of the tablecloth are soft, creating stunning still lifes.

The Last Supper is the only wall painting by Leonardo Da Vinci visible today. The “tempera” painting technique allowed to enhance the creative skills of this brilliant artist and inventor, but did not withstand the climatic conditions, that over time have compromised its state. However, today it is possible to rediscover the original colors and details of the work with the exhibition “Leonardo3 – The world of Leonardo”, at the King’s Halls in the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery in Milan until July 31. You will be able to enjoy the digital restoration of this masterpiece, and rediscover it as it used to be. The exhibition offers 3D interactive experiences with over 200 machines to make exciting new discoveries for adults and children. A stone’s throw from Piazza della Scala, where the monument to Leonardo da Vinci stands, the exhibition is a must-see to relive the flashes of his unstoppable mind.

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie:

  • Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2, Milan
  • +39 02 92800362
  • www.cenacolovinciano.net
  • Open every day except Monday, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
  • Hours 8.15-19 (last admission 18.45)
  • Reservations required
  • Admission: € 8 / € 4.75 (reduced)

Leonardo3 – The World of Leonardo:


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