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Venice Hidden Gem: Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem of Venice Italy

An exterior photo of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, a hidden gem of Venice. The Scala Bovolo is found in the San Marco area, off Campo Manin.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo:  Origin of the Name

The Scala Contarini del Bovolo was my favorite hidden gem find while in Venice, Italy.  The name literally means the ladder Contarini (a surname) of the snail.  Standing before the palazzo, it’s not a stretch to see where the name originated.  The steps were originally designed for the Contarini family, and the snail-like spiral of the steps is clear.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem of Venice Italy

Interior photo of Scala Contarini del Bovolo showing the wide spiraling staircase framed by a stone archway entrance.

Venice Hidden Gem – The Location:

Ever since I had stumbled across pictures of the Scala Bovolo, I had wanted to find it while we were in Venice.  It is mentioned in a few guide books, but usually in a passing way, with only a sentence or two given to it.

To be fair, it is truly a Venice hidden gem, well off the beaten path.  Most visitors come to Venice for a completely insufficient length of time (in my humble opinion), many for just a day or maybe two.  It’s a city filled with people checking sights off their list.  Because of that, I imagine the time it takes to track down this unique, but hidden, building just isn’t worth it to many.

I, however, and very glad I went, map in hand through the even tinier back streets of the San Marco area.  Twisting, turning, winding up in the wrong campo, and backtracking to find the correct turn, and finally, finding Campo Manin, and the little turn into a small courtyard where the only thing of note is the Palazzo Cortarini del Bovolo.

To find it yourself, see the Google Map at the end of this piece.

cala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem Top Secret Sights Venice Italy

Interior photo of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo showing the spiraling steps and arched entrance, as well as the broad balcony connecting to it.

The History of Scala Contarini del Bovolo:

The Palazzo was built in the 15th century for the Contarini family, with the exterior staircase spiraling 5 stories upward.  If you are an Orson Welles fan, this is the staircase that was featured in his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello.

The staircase itself is beautifully designed and spacious, and worth taking a look in it’s own right.  Initially this was designed just to decorate the facade for an eminent Venetian family.  To increase their popularity and prestige.  And it’s pretty impressive looking, so I guess I can see where this would set your neighbors and community whispering, making the ‘right’ people envious of you.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem Top Secret Sights Venice Italy

View of tiled rooftops through the arches of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo

The Views from the Hidden Gem:

But the views as you ascend the steps are an beautiful bonus that just gets better the higher you go.  As you progress, there are the flowered windows, and then the tiled rooftops.  At the top, a view across the whole of the San Marco area, with the domes of St. Marks Cathedral and the Campanile in the distance.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem Top Secret Sights Venice Italy

View from the Scala of nearby shuttered windows with window boxes

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem Top Secret Sights Venice Italy

View from the top of the Scala Bovolo, through the arches, of rooftops of Venice with Basilica San Marco and the Campanile in the distance.

It’s worth the 5 story climb for this:

Scala Contarini del Bovolo exterior photo Hidden Gem Top Secret Sights Venice Italy

View from the top of the Scala Bovolo of rooftops of Venice with Basilica San Marco and the Campanile in the distance.

Check out the website of the Scala Contarini Del Bovolo for more information.

Click on this Map to Scala Contarini del Bovolo to navigate the Google Map:


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Scala Contarini del Bovolo Hidden Gem Venice Ital

20 thoughts on “Venice Hidden Gem: Scala Contarini del Bovolo

  1. I’ve taken photos of this from the clock tower but never knew what it was! Man, I never knew you could go up it. It looks so cool! I guess it’s something to do next time 🙂

    • I usually try to do the same. The Campanile in Venice is the usual choice, but it is right in St. Mark’s Square, and there is often quite the line. Plus, you are actually standing right under the bells, so it can be loud if they go off while you are there. This was so quiet! There was only 1 other person there the same time as me. Totally different experience.

    • Completely agree! I’m a bit architecture obsessed when it comes to travel. So much so, that my daughter is quick to define herself as more ‘interested in nature, instead of buildings like Mom’ is. 😀 So this just really was a great find for me.

    • 😀 I’m the same way! I think I may wind up with one whole post dedicated to windows with shutters/windowboxes in Venice. I took soooo many pictures of those.

  2. This is such a gorgeous piece of architecture! I’m amazed I’d never heard of it before now!! Thanks for the post and I’ll keep an eye out for it next time I’m in the area!!

  3. Oh wow! I never knew this existed Meg, thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been to Venice a few times now and always just wander aimlessly through the back streets but never knew it was possible to climb these stairs! Such a great view from the top!

    • I spent two afternoons wandering the back alleys and streets when we were there this time. Venice is one of those cities I could visit time and again just for that. <3

  4. Pingback: Venice: Piazza San Marco Hidden Treasures - wandertoes

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