In the old refectory of the Vallombrosan Abbey on the outskirts of Florence, Andrea del Sarto painted the life-like Last Supper, his most spectacular masterpiece and one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. The Last Supper was begun in 1519 and was finished between 1526 and 1527 and he painted it in so good a style that his work was held to be, as it certainly is, the most smooth, the most vivacious in colouring and drawing that he ever did, or rather that anyone could do. For apart from all the rest, he gave such infinite grace, grandeur, and majesty to all the figures that I do not know how to praise his Last Supper without saying too little, it being so fine that whoever sees it is stupefied.Giorgio Vasari
In its day this was one of the most celebrated works in Florence. During the 1529 siege of the city, when it was brand new, the Imperial and Spanish troops levelled vast swathes of the Florence suburbs, but they spared this refectory and its beloved fresco.
Andrea del Sarto and his restrained High Renaissance manner gradually fell out of favour, and few visitors come out to the city's eastern fringes to see his masterpiece, where every figure appears to be a portrait. Don't miss the two unusual foreshortened figures in the upper balcony, reminiscent of Veronese's love of incidental characters.
There's a lot to see. Besides del Sarto's fresco, the Cenacolo and the other surviving rooms house works from San Salvi and other closed monasteries: altarpieces by del Sarto, minor works by Jacopo Pontormo, Franciabigio, Giorgio Vasari, Fra Bartolommeo, Raffaellino del Garbo as well as three fine reliefs by Benedetto da Rovazzano.
Via di S. Salvi 16, east of the centre off Viale Edmondo de Amicis
Hours daily exc Mon 8.15am-1.50pm; free; you may have to ring the bell to get inside/
+39 055 238 8603
Images by: PD Art