Just 5 minutes from St. Mark’s Square you can admire a masterpiece of Venice less known by the most part of the people who visit the city: Contarini del Bovolo Staircase.
Located in the heart of the city, the staircase belongs to the adjacent Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo and it is considered a unique architectural treasure made by brick and stone, that combines the essence of Renaissance, Gothic and Byzantine styles. It’s actually hard to reach the staircase and the adjoining palace if you don’t know the right address (there are no indications at least not until you reach the adjacent narrow street), so we suggest to take a map with you or a gps.
The staircase, with an high of 28 meters and a diameter of 4,70 meters, was commissioned by Pietro Contarini, senator of the Serenissima Republic of Venice at the end of the 15th century to connect the two wings of the Contarini Palace, which his family had bought a few years earlier, but also to decorate the facade of the palace and enhance the prestige and the popularity of Contarini family. His aim was quickly achieved: the spiral staircase called by Venetians “bovolo” (“bovolo” in Venetian dialect means snail shell) reached a great appeal and its nickname was attached to the family, called since that moment Contarini del Bovolo.
The Contarini Palace, built between the 14th and the 15th century for the Contarini family, worth well a visit for its elegance and style. At the end of Contarini dynasty it became an hotel in 1803 and in 1952 it was chosen by Orson Welles as one of the main locations for his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. Today the palace belongs to IRE, the Institution for recovery and education, and has been restored as its spiral staircase.
How to get there
Contarini del Bovolo Palace and its staircase are located in San Marco district (about 350 meters far from St. Mark’s Square) near Campo Manin, overlooking the San Luca Canal. The address is Corte Contarina, del Bovolo, 4303.
Plan your visit
You visit the Contarini Palace and the adjacent staircase every day from 10:00 to 18:00. The price is 7€ for adults, 6€ for younger than 26 years old and over 65 years, children until 12 years old are free. Please note that people with cardiovascular conditions and mobility impairments are highly discouraged from visiting the staircase and the palace, because they are not equipped with elevator (the staircase has more than 80 steps!).
Even the climb to the top of the staircase is quite challenging (there are more than 80 steps), your effort will certainly worth it! From the belvedere Venice appears more beautiful than ever: An all-round view on the rooftops, bell-towers and palaces, right from the heart of the city will allow you to admire Venice from a stunning perspective, you cannot miss!