Scala Contarini del Bovolo: a hidden gem in Venice

A stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge, near Campo Manin, you enter a small side street and in a few minutes you are surprised by the majesty of a spiral staircase inside in a small courtyard. This is the “Scala Contarini del Bovolo,” a monument of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, once the residence of the Contarini, a powerful patrician family of the San Paternian branch, which in the 14th century had the honor of having given a doge to the Serenissima, the Republic of Venice. Its name comes from bòvolo, the Venetian dialect word for “spiral staircase,” and it is one of the most unusual examples of Venetian architecture in its transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance style. A series of loggias connects the various floors of the staircase, which winds inside a cylindrical tower of ascending arches. From above, among its play of marble elements, you can admire the splendid panorama of the lagoon city.  

How can one resist the temptation to compare it with the Leaning Tower of Pisa? An external staircase was not a novelty at the time, but its size and atmosphere certainly make it unique. In Venice there is always a hidden gem that can be added to the tour itinerary.
Therefore we recommend a stop at the Scala Contarini del Bovolo!
Info to visit

Architecture and curiosity of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo

The events of the Palazzo span five centuries of Venetian history. Towards the end of the 15th century, the Palazzo was embellished with a unique, graceful spiral staircase commissioned by Pietro Contarini, a scion from the San Paternian branch of the powerful Contarini family. The design is attributed to the Venetian architect and carpenter Giovanni Candi. The series of loggias one above the other resolves the connection between the tower and the adjoining building, which rises four floors in brick and Istrian stone and is the result of the merging of two buildings.
According to one legend, Pietro Contarini had such a staircase built so that he could ride on horseback to his bedroom, which was on the top floor of the building. Standing 26 meters high, the staircase gives access to the loggias on all four floors of the building. On the second floor you can visit the Tintoretto room, which holds various examples of Venetian figurative art from the 16th to the 18th centuries of extraordinary value. Among these is Tintoretto’s sketch of Paradise, the large canvas of which is in the Doge’s Palace.  

Interesting fact: in 1859 a guest of the inn, the German astronomer Wilhelm Tempel, discovered comet C/1859 and the Merope nebula in the Pleiades cluster while making observations with a telescope from the belvedere of the spiral staircase.

How to get to Scala Contarini del Bovolo

The hotel Locanda Art Deco is a five minutes on foot from the Scala Contarini del Bovolo.

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We will be happy to welcome you to our tiny hotel.  


We look forward to seeing you in Venice!