Day 12: The Last Supper and Venice

May 31, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

*As always, select images from the trip are available for purchase.  They can be found here.*

Day 12

This morning, we had tickets to see The Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci, or as they say in Italian, L'Ultima Cena.  I bought tickets 2 weeks before our departure, and I still almost didn't get them!  Apperently, since The DaVinci Code came out, this has become a very popular place. The work is housed at a church in Milan called Santa Maria Delle Grazie.  We were told to arrive 30 minutes prior to our ticket time, so we checked in and sat outside in a piazza to wait our turn.  At exactly 10:15a, all 20 of us were in our places at the entrance to the church with our tour guide.  Automatic doors opened, we entered a small room, the doors closed behind us, then another set of doors opened, we entered another small room, and the doors closed behind us.  Finally, that set of doors opened and we were in the room with the Last Supper.  Apparently DaVinci did not use the typical fresco method to create this painting.  Frescos are supposed to be painted in sections, as the plaster is wet, and that section has to be completed before the plaster on the wall dries.  DaVinci did not want to be rushed, so he didn't do it that way.  Instead, he painted on the already dried plaster.  This allowed him to go for days at a time without touching the work, then work for 24 hours straight if he wanted to, however it did not preserve well. Our tour guide said even within 20 years of completing the work, it was already starting to crumble.  Hence the crazy sequence of opening and shutting doors to get into the room.  There has been extensive restoration work done on it, and it's very very fragile.  And photography is absolutely forbidden, so I have no pictures to share with you.

The Last Supper is actually huge.  About 15 feet high by 29 feet wide.  It covers a full wall of this church. For some reason I never really thought of it as being that big.  It has been through a lot.  When Napoleon took over, he used the room as a stable.  2 out of 4 of the walls in that room were blown up during World War 2, fortunately not that wall.  Someone came along at some point and decided the doorway under the painting wasn't tall enough, so they cut it out - taking off Jesus' feet.

Here's some perspective for you.  DaVinci moved to Milan from Florence in 1482.  He started work on the Last Supper around 1495.  In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  AMERICA HAD JUST BEEN DISCOVERED!

Exactly 15 minutes after entering, a voice comes over the loud speaker and tells us we must exit.  And this is when I had the realization that our Italian Renaissance education was complete.  You see, my friends, we had successfully seen all 4 of the Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.  My life is complete:)

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Since I didn't have my camera with me last night, we headed back to the duomo to take a few pictures of Milan's cathedral. 

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We ate lunch at a place called Bar Duomo. We chose it because it looked like we could eat rather quickly there, and it gave us a beautiful view of the cathedral.  This was probably one of my least favorite meals, though. I got Milanese pizza with spicy salami on it.  It was really just ok.  I'm pretty sure this was one of the touristy places that they tell you to avoid. Oh well, we didn't really have time to look for somewhere better.

milan, duomo, cathedral, gothic, italy, travel, "christine lewis photography"

And you couldn't beat the view.

And now, to Venice! 

We made our train, and arrived in Venice around 3p.  First priority, we bought a map.  Lucas was convinced that we could walk to our hotel, no problem.  I was convinced that we needed to take a vaporetto (water taxi). For one, I wanted to ride down the grand canal.  For two, I've heard many stories about how difficult it is to navigate in Venice, especially with the lack of road signs and the difficulty of finding bridges to cross canals.  I didn't really want to attempt that while dragging all our luggage.

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Fortunately, I won that one and we went almost the whole length of the canal.  We past the beautiful palazzi,

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past gondolas, under the Rialto Bridge, and to our stop, San Toma. 

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From there, it was a very short and only semi-confusing walk to our B&B, Ca'San Polo.  We had a cute little room overlooking a small street in Venice. 

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The view from our window.

This is just proof that Lucas does iron:)  I most certainly don't!

After settling in, we went up to the terrace to take in the gorgeous view of the never ending terra cotta rooftops. Ah, Welcome to Venice.  There really isn't anywhere else like this place.

At this point, we had our fill of churches and museums. Although each one is gorgeous, our brains were full.  So, we spent most of our time in Venice exploring.  We were hungry (of course), so decided to hop on a short gondola ride across the canal.  There are only 2 main bridges, and both were way out of our way.

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I'd say the gondoliers have modernized a bit...

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We wandered around and looked at several different piazzas as there's at least one in every sestiere.  We made our way  into Piazza San Stefano to make reservations for dinner at A Beccafico, a restaurant that a friend had recommended to me. 

While waiting for our 7:30p reservation, we wandered around the piazza and across the Accademia Bridge.

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Lucas looks so happy in this one huh? We'll say that's the sun in his eyes:)

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The view of the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge.

Venice has no cars. None.  If you want to get somewhere, you must either walk or take some sort of water craft.  Often, even if you take a boat, you must walk a good distance to get to your destination from the nearest stop.  This makes this city look so different.  They don't have to structure their streets around vehicles. venice, italy, travel, "christine lewis photography", fine art print, home decor, alley

Some avenues are wide enough for a car, some are only a couple feet wide, most are open to the sky, but some are short little walkways through buildings. 

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This place was not set up on a grid system.  There are no "main roads" that will lead you from one side of town to the other.  It's a labrynth.  In fact, there are only 3 bridges that cross over the grand canal.  So, if you need to get to the other side of it, you must first get to one of those bridges, then find your way to where you are going.

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I love the architecture and all the colors.  Here are a few of my favorite details from the day.

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Our dinner at A Beccafico was absolutely delicious.  We started off with a shrimp salad and mixed olive plate.  This shrimp was so amazingly fresh, it's even a different color than our shrimp.  And who even knows what the dressing was. It was divine.  And I'm a HUGE olive fan, so I'm pretty sure I ate the whole plate full of olives myself.  For the life of me, I can't remember what I had for my main course.  Those appetizers totally outweighed anything I could have chosen for my meal.  To top it off, they gave us some lemoncello to end our meal. 

We wandered back home in the darkness, and got only a little lost.  I blame Lucas.  I just assume he knows where he's going!  After orienting and reorienting a few times, we returned to the correct little doorway in the correct little alleyway.

Tomorrow is another busy day in Venice!

Did you miss the other days? Read Days 1 and 2, Day 3, Days 4 and 5, Day 6, Day 7, Days 8 and 9, Days 10 and 11, and Days 13-15.


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