It doesn’t need to be your last supper — head to the nearby Boccondivino for some outstanding traditional food and wine
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1463 and 1482 at the behest of Count Gaspare Vimercati. At first it was as a church and a Dominican convent; later, Ludovico the Moor ordered some alterations to make it fit to serve as a mausoleum for his family. Donato Bramante carried out this redesign, making some characteristic changes: large, semi-circular apses were added, along with a majestic cupola, a cloister and the famous refectory.
Seven square chapels were available inside the church, and the rich and powerful of Milan clamoured to claim them. Those who earned the right to bury their loved ones there also had them lavishly decorated by the masters of the time: within them are sculptures by Antonello da Messina, frescoes by Gaudenzio Ferrari and Donato da Montorfano’s The Crucifixion. Altogether, the ambitions and commissions of Milan’s nobility have made the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie a treasure of Renaissance Milan.
The Last Supper
Although beautiful in its own right, the church is famous for one reason above all: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Found in the refectory, this masterpiece shows Christ announcing that one of his apostles will betray him. It has just about stood the test of time, and of men: during World War II an Anglo-American bombing run hit the church and the convent. Parts of the refectory were destroyed but some walls survived, thankfully including the one which bears The Last Supper — it had been sand-bagged to protect it from just such a tragedy.
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