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TOURISM

Milan reopens Last Supper and Duomo to visitors for first time in months

If you're in Milan this week, it could be your best chance to admire Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper or stroll the Duomo without the crowds.

Milan reopens Last Supper and Duomo to visitors for first time in months
Milan's Duomo was last open to tourists in November 2020. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Two of the city's most famous attractions reopen to visitors this week: the Last Supper on Tuesday, February 9th and the Duomo from Thursday, February 11th.

Both have been closed since November because of the coronavirus pandemic, though the cathedral remained open for religious services.

Now that the surrounding region of Lombardy is a 'yellow zone', like most of Italy, museums and galleries are allowed to reopen – though only from Monday to Friday, and with social distancing measures in place.

REMINDER: What are the rules in Italy's Covid-19 'yellow zones'?

Up to 12 people will be admitted to see the Last Supper every 15 minutes as it reopens this week, rising to 18 from next week.

But the biggest change is that you'll be able to buy a ticket on the spot for entry the same day, without reserving online in advance. Pre-pandemic, tickets were often booked out for weeks.

“I invite everyone in Milan and Lombardy to visit the Last Supper in these special conditions,” regional museum director Emanuela Daffra told the Corriere della Sera. “The Covid emergency has at least had the effect of reducing the legendary wait, and this is a real opportunity for the public.”


Admiring the Last Supper in pre-pandemic days. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

While nearly 450,000 people visited Da Vinci's masterpiece in the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent in 2019, the site had just over 132,000 visitors in 2020. It was closed from February to June in the first wave of the pandemic, then reopened over the summer only to close again in early November. 

The Duomo was closed to tourists over the same period, though millions admired it over the internet when Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli gave an evocative solo concert in the empty cathedral while much of the world was in lockdown (even if the opera star later disgraced himself by urging people to disregard health restrictions). 

From Thursday, it will be open to visitors once more from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with people encouraged to book entry online.

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Non-essential travel between regions remains banned in Italy until at least February 15th, meaning that the only people who'll be able to visit either attraction are people based in the region of Lombardy.

The regional travel ban, along with restrictions on international travel, has resulted in unprecedented opportunities for residents to visit their biggest local attractions without the usual crowds, whether it's the Vatican Museums or Colosseum in Rome, or the carnival in Venice. 

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CULTURE

Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.

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