Milan’s Two Star Attractions: Leonardo’s Fading Masterpiece and The Duomo
Before we began our research to visit Milan, I knew Milan for only one thing: Prada. Knowing there was no way a Prada shopping spree was in my/our near future, I quickly found the main two “monuments” for which Milan is known: The Duomo and da Vinci’s Last Supper.
On our first full day in Milan, we were out the door by 7:30am to make the [Ambyr’s opinion as long] walk to see da Vinci’s famous work. Having just seen the Mona Lisa in the Lourve, and being admittedly disappointed, we were definitely keeping our expectations for The Last Supper low. When we arrived, we were shocked by the lack of tourists.
It was probably the first very famous place we’ve been where there wasn’t a large “queue” of people waiting outside. This might be attributed to the fact we’ve only visited so far in the summer and during European “holiday” season. Upon checking in with our confirmation sheet to pick up our tickets, we realized that what everyone said was true: you must book tickets in advance because they don’t sell them at the door. We were early, so we ventured to the adorable church next door to the building in which the painting is held. We’d highly recommend visiting the church, Santa Maria delle Grazie, as we were able to see great examples of Classical Renaissance architecture and a rare form of art called sgraffit (etched designs).
We quickly joined our group to enter Leonardo’s great Renaissance masterpiece. We weren’t able to take pictures inside of the painting or building, but we were truly in awe of the work. The Last Supper was enormous in comparison to any detailed work of art as famous. By sheer size it appears more as a mural than painting; however, the detail in which Jesus and the disciples are portrayed is incredible. As many will say, the painting is fading, but the restoration work has truly preserved a fragile art piece.
For the unfamiliar, Leonardo painted this work with oil paint on semi-dry plaster. This was contrary to the work style of the time buon fresco (which is applying color to wet plaster). The reason Leonardo used oil paint was that he wished to show more detail than the traditional fresco allowed. As a result, his painting was very fragile in nature and began to deteriorate before he had even finished painting it. Not only that, but Napoleon’s troops later used the painting’s wall for target practice. The faded nature and fragility of the piece is best juxtaposed with a fresco work completed directly across the room from it. All in all, a MUST do. To top it off, it was also a UNESCO site!!!!
From there, we walked to the Duomo. Although pretty obvious in photos, the Duomo is nothing short of breathtaking. It took over 430 years to complete, having began construction in 1386. It’s currently the third largest church in the world, and boasts 52 massive columns inside the church as supports. The most impressive thing about the Duomo is the resistance of the Milanese to change architectural styles during the hundreds of years and many fads that occurred during the building of the church. This commitment to one style definitely paid off, it is one of the most recognizable churches in the world.
We climbed the 250 steps to the roof on the Duomo where we admired Milan from above. Definitely our favorite view of the city, and we hope you enjoy the photos!