When it comes to visiting Venice, most people have heard of the usual tourist hotspots. However, hidden away in the San Marco district is a lesser-known but equally impressive attraction: the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, also known simply as the Bovolo.

We will find more about its amazing architecture and its interesting history in this article.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo, an amazing hidden gem of Venice

Scala Contarini del Bovolo in venice
Photo by Wolfgang Moroder, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scala Contarini del Bovolo is part of the palace of the same name: Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.

What does "bovolo'' mean? It is a Venetian word for "snail shell" (in Italian "chiocciola"). In fact, the staircase is a spiral staircase which in Italian is called "scala a chiocciola".

The Bovolo is a unique architectural masterpiece, featuring a spiral staircase that winds its way up to a terrace with stunning views of the city.

The staircase seems like a cylindrical tower and it is made of white marble and is decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures, making it a perfect open air work of art. The terrace at the top offers spectacular views of the city.

Additionally, it is the perfect spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Venice and enjoy some quiet, as it is hidden in a special location within San Marco district.

In fact, it is tucked away in a small courtyard and is not a well-known tourist destination, meaning that it's a great spot to experience a more authentic Venice and escape the crowds.

Brief history of the noble Scala Contarini del Bovolo in Venice

The Palace Contarini del Bovolo was designed and built in the 15th century by the architect Giovanni Candi. It was used as one of the residences of the Contarini family.

It is believed that the architect of the amazing staircase was Giorgio Spavento. It was added to the building at the very end of the 15th century.

The staircase is so beautiful that it was chosen by American director, actor, screenwriter and producer Orson Welles as one of the main locations for his adaptation of Othello.

After some years of restoration, the Bovolo staircase is open to the public again.

How to visit the Scala Contarini del Bovolo

spiral stairway venice
Photo by Petra Venezia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The famous staircase is located close to Campo Manin and faces Rio di San Luca.

It is not so easy to find it, but if you put its correct address on Google maps (Scala Contarini del Bovolo, 4303, 30124 Venezia VE) you will surely find it.

If you just want to visit the staircase from outside you won't have to buy the entrance ticket. In case you want to climb it, there is a ticket office close to it or you can buy the ticket online.

The entrance ticket costs 8 euros but there are some discounts available for travel guides, youths and elderly people (6 euros).

Some tips to visit the spiral staircase of Venice

This popular attraction is often very crowded.

If you have the chance, try not to go at noon, because it is the most crowded time of the day.

Additionally, if you suffer from vertigo, this might not be the ideal experience to do in the city!

Check here our insider guide for more activities to do!

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