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VOL. 41 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 24, 2017

The art of Italy might require advance reservations

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The Last Supper is in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is a late 15th-century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

-- Shutterstock.Com

“The Last Supper” is billed as one of Leonardo da Vinci’s great masterpieces, and it’s housed in Milan’s Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. I didn’t know this until recently thumbing through the Milan entry in a guidebook to Italy. But when I mentioned it to my wife, she demanded it make our itinerary when we are in Milan for about 24 hours this summer.

We will spend a week visiting Barcelona and Spain’s Costa Brava, Provence, and the French and Italian rivieras. We fly home from Milan, and will have an afternoon and night to explore that city. So, sure, we’ll check out this masterpiece.

But then I notice the warning that reservations are mandatory and no more than 25 people are allowed in every 15 minutes. We’re more than three months out so surely I can get reservations, right?

On one hand, booking a reservation for a 15-minute slot of a 24-hour period in Milan, Italy, months before the visit occurs seems ludicrous. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow at 1:15 p.m., so how can I know if I can commit to a museum visit three months from now?

Well, if you’re not the planning type, some aspects of travel – especially international travel – just aren’t for you.

I knew the importance of making museum reservations prior to a 2005 visit to Italy. But several months out I still found only one slot available at Florence’s famed Uffizi Gallery. I booked it, knowing we’d only have an hour to gaze at Renaissance art before rushing to board our train to Venice. A taste was better than missing it.

Walking outside the museum during the days leading up to our visit we encountered long lines of visitors snaking around the building, waiting to get in. I asked one of the Americans in line what they were doing. He said he didn’t realize reservations were recommended and so they had been in line for hours just hoping to get inbefore the museum closed. He wasted much of a day while we walked right in.

I’ve used that day as a reminder that it’s helpful to plan a trip well in advance when possible, especially when it’s another country.

Back to “The Last Supper” reservation. As I write this column I keep refreshing the vivaticket.it website, hoping the message “There are currently no availabilities; please check back during the next few hours” eventually turns to “Select how many tickets,” or something along those lines.

Tickets for the month of June became available this morning. I stayed up past 1 a.m. Memphis time checking the site, but it wasn’t updated yet.

Now, every slot on the only day I have to visit is taken except the 1:45 p.m. one. It says five seats available. I click to buy and I get that “no availabilities” notice.

I suspect we’re just out of luck. But I’ll keep trying.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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