I thought I was planning ahead about a month and a half ago when I was looking up tickets to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting, and I realized I was actually far too late, as all the tickets in November were completely booked up except for two time slots… which only had one person per time slot left. Then, I realized we were encountering the same problem we did with train tickets to Hualien to see Taroko Gorge in Taiwan in the summer: individual travelers really need to plan months in advance to get tickets, otherwise, the major tour operators snatch up all the tickets in an attempt to make more money and get more customers. The first three tours I looked up were sold out, and finally Chris found a walking tour that included The Last Supper for today, and we booked it. It actually was a really good experience because our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable, and we also got tickets through it to enter Milan’s Duomo.
The Last Supper is so well protected that it’s probably treated better than most human beings treat each other. It’s a painting that is literally on the wall of this large hall, which you cannot access without entering through four protected and electronically controlled doors. The hall is temperature and humidity controlled given the historical damage the painting has faced, and they’re very, very strict about the number of visitors in the hall at once (25 people), how much time you can spend in there (20 minutes max), and of course, absolutely no flash photography. A security worker in the hall was constantly hovering around us, making sure no one was eating, drinking, or about to whip out a flash. Her facial expression was extremely stern; I would not have wanted to piss her off. We found out from our tour guide that someone actually tried to destroy the painting by dropping a bomb on the church; it just missed the hallway and destroyed entire other sections of the church instead. It’s hard to imagine the amount of hate and animosity toward a single painting or painter that would warrant dropping a bomb on the building that houses it.