December 8, 2013 – Milan, Italy

Today is a special day. Not only is it the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and we are going to view Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper, but it is also my birthday. Today I am officially an old person.

After meeting for breakfast, John, Sarah and I head to the Metro station. We are old hands at this now and John asks for a tutto giorno, a ticket for all day. We have left plenty of time to get to the Santa Maria delle Grazie – probably too much time but if you miss your appointment for 15 minutes of viewing then you are out of luck. As usual the tickets have been sold out way in advance. We purchased ours in September.

The nondescript convent building housing the Last Supper
The nondescript convent building housing the Last Supper

Since we are 45 minutes early, we read the information posted on the walls about the painting, rent our audio tour and check people’s shoes out. (Just Sarah and I check out the shoes.)

Sarah and John waiting
Sarah and John waiting

Finally it is our turn. The painting has gone through over 20 years of restoration and is now much closer to Da Vinci’s original. Unfortunately, since he used an unproven technique to paint the mural, it is in great disrepair. Much of the paint has flaked off. But it is glorious. The Apostles sit in four groups of three with Christ in the middle. They are all reacting to the fact that Christ has just told them that one of them will betray him but they don’t know which one of them yet. So they are surprised, angry and upset. Christ and Judas reach simultaneously for the same piece of bread. Christ has predicted that the person who does this is the traitor.

Da Vinci's Last Supper (photo from Wikipedia due to no picture taking allowed)
Da Vinci’s Last Supper (photo from Wikipedia due to no picture taking allowed)

The rest of the afternoon we have planned to have a birthday lunch and look around the Galleria and the Christmas market. It is very difficult finding a restaurant open on Sunday. We end up at a touristy place called Si in the Galleria. The lunch turns out to be very expensive and very bad.

After lunch we wander around the Galleria window shopping and then go to the Christmas market. The whole area is wall to wall people. Everybody is Christmas shopping.

Inside the Galleria
Inside the Galleria
Sarah in front of Prada
Sarah in front of Prada
Sausage in the shape of piglets at the Christmas Market
Sausage in the shape of piglets at the Christmas Market

The weather is getting colder and foggier as 5PM approaches. One last look at the Duomo and it’s time to leave. Tomorrow we head out to Venice with a stop in Padua to see the Scrovegni Chapel, home to Giotto’s amazing frescoes.
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