The Scala Contarini del Bovolo is another of the lesser known Venice attractions - lost in the maze of streets and canals, one has to make an extra effort to locate what is really just a glorified staircase. Certainly one of the most unassuming Venice attractions, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo still happens to be one of the city's most interesting finds. Even though it is, technically, a palace, it's hard to tell now - the only remains of its storied past are the fading frescoes that bow under the staircase's many arches. For a city so enamored with the finer things in life, it's a wonder that the rest of the palace is not as carefully renovated as the one aspect that brings tourists to the Scala Contarini del Bovolo - its immense and winding outer staircase.
The name derives from the Italian word for snail (Bovolo)
and the man who commissioned it - Pietro Contarini.
Built in 1499 along a barely traveled side street near
Campo Manin, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo remains one
of the most charming architectural displays in a city
full of such things, boasting a fascinating combination
of early Renaissance and Byzantine forms. The crystal
white arches look like something out of a romance novel
and the staircase leads to a landing overlooking the city
- the bell towers, tiled roofs and a handful of
other Venice attractions are splayed out before you.
The domes of Saint Mark stand regally in the distance, and the quaint roofs of
one of Venice's smaller residential areas offer
a nice contrast to the ornate official buildings and churches
that are spread throughout the rest of the city.
As you'd expect, since it is one of the more endearing
and less-visited Venice Italy attractions - it is
a bit of a chore to find. If you can navigate your
way to the Ponte Rialto,
you've got a head start. From there, follow
the signs to Campo Manin and you're most of the
way there - asking for help is certainly no shame
when in Venice (as any seasoned traveler to Italy knows,
it's a lot harder than getting around Rome or Florence), especially since
the Scala Contarini del Bovolo is basically stuck in a
back alley. Also make sure that you stop by the
staircase in the afternoon, unless you're with a
party of 20 or more, you can only climb the stairs between
the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.