Scala del bovolo Venice: an hidden jewel

In Venice you go and return countless times in life, always beautiful Venice, places of interest in profusion! How many times do you return there, always missing some hidden jewel discovered too late to be added to the program of visit: for example, never heard of the scale of the Bovolo?

Following one of the beaten path to get to San Marco, a few steps from the Rialto bridge, you will find yourself in Campo Manin: in a small and narrow side of the field is Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, once owned by the powerful patrician family of Contarini of the branch of San Paternian, which in the fourteenth century had even had the honor of having given a doge to the Serenissima. It was one of the descendants of this family, Pietro Contarini, who decorated his palace with this splendid staircase towards the end of the fifteenth century.

Let’s climb this singular snail together and look at the city among its marble games that are so reminiscent of lace.


La Scala del Bovolo Venice: a timeless charm

What awaits you during your visit to the Scala del Bovolo.

Not only will you feel like you are entering an ancient history, but on reaching the panoramic terrace you will have a 360° view of the city (on clear days you can even see the Dolomites in the distance!).

Once you reach the loggia on the second floor, you can visit the Tintoretto room, where some examples of the figurative art of Venice between the 16th and 18th centuries of extraordinary value are kept. Among these we remember the sketch of the Paradise of Tintoretto, whose canvas is located in the Doge’s Palace.

This incredible construction was attributed to Giovanni Candi, architect and carpenter from Veneto, who built the spiral of the staircase formed by 80 monolithic steps that are screwed counterclockwise in a cylinder of walls for 26 meters in height. The staircase is spread over four floors of bricks and Istrian stone and being pierced with arches, it appears unusually airy with an indefinite style that passes from the Gothic, through Venetian-Byzantine memories and touches the Renaissance style under the influence of Tuscan artists arrived in Venice.

Contarini del Bovolo scale: history

Let’s go a little further into the Scala Contarini del Bovolo: what’s the story behind it?Monumenti di Venezia: scopri un patrimonio nascosto con tour e visite guidate!

We have just told you that Pietro Contarini decorated his home with this cylindrical tower with its dome viewpoint. He may have thought: “I may be one of the few patricians not to have a view of the Grand Canal, but I certainly have the most beautiful external staircase of all! So beautiful that from then on the branch of his family was called “del bovolo”. How can we not be tempted by the comparison between the Bovolo staircase and the tower of Pisa? Pietro Contarini Although an external staircase was not in itself a novelty of that time (on the contrary, it is a well known trick in an island that has always suffered from lack of space), it is the size and the peculiar atmosphere released by this monument from the appearance so eclectic and graceful, which make it unique.

In the nineteenth century, the new owner Arnaux Marseille made the staircase and the building attached to the inn “the Maltese”; from 1849 it became the property of the Brotherhood of the Poor of St. Luke and from there to the IRE to which we owe the recovery of the works exhibited in the room of Tintoretto.

Finally, a curiosity of modern times: did you know that this very palace and its external spiral staircase were used by Orsons Welles as a set for his Othello?

A real hidden treasure of Venice that deserves to be found.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo: tickets? better to reserve online!

la maestosa scala del bovolo

To access the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, tickets can also be purchased on site, but we recommend you reserve your visit in advance online.

The price is the same and will allow you to save time: the staircase is accessible only to small groups at a time, so, if you do not want to risk being in line choose the day and time of visit before arriving!

The entrance ticket also includes a visit to any temporary exhibitions present.

In addition to the single entrance, you can buy a cumulative ticket that will allow you to enter the oratory of the Crucifers.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo: price visit

At the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, what is the price of a visit?

Here they are:

    • entire: 7 €;
    • reduced: 6 € – from 12 to 26 years, Over 65 years, FAI members, Touring Club Italiano (TCI), GIST members (Gruppo Italiano Stampa Turistica);
    • Free of charge – children up to 12 years of age, licensed tour guides, residents of the City of Venice (with identification document and residence)

The cost of the cumulative ticket that also includes the Oratory of the Cruises is 9 €.

Staircase of the cattle of Venice: visiting hours

For the Scala del Bovolo, the visiting hours are from 10:00 to 18:00 (last entrance and closing of the ticket office at 17.30).

It is open every day of the year with some exceptions:

  • January 1st
  • August 15th
  • November 1st
  • 25th and 26th December

Outside regular opening hours, it is very interesting to follow the calendar of extraordinary evening events: a unique opportunity to experience a fascinating place at sunset! Or why not organise a private event here? It could be an exclusive aperitif with music or a dinner for example!

La Scala del Bovolo: a map, to help you find this treasure

you know that the most beautiful treasures tend to be hidden: a few minutes walk from St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, misfortune and fortune of this monument is that it is located in a small calle secluded and at first glance can escape.

But we’ll give you a tip, because in reality it’s very easy to find the Scala del Bovolo: a real map is not necessary!

Once in Campo Manin, eyes in the eyes with the majestic bronze chimera, on your right you will notice a calle in the middle of the field and above a small yellow plaque will say “scala contarini del bovolo”. Take the calle and get ready two minutes later to be amazed by the majesty of this monument enclosed in a small courtyard.

Hidden jewels in Venice: are there others?

Are you curious to know what are the other jewels hidden in Venice?

Unveiling them all here would not be possible, there are too many!

But here are the ones you can visit with our tour that starts right from the Scala Contarini del Bovolo and that will give you access to some artistic sites that will open their doors for the occasion:

  • The Oratory of the Crucifers: born as a hospital in the twelfth century, preserves an extraordinary cycle of paintings executed entirely by Jacopo Palma the Younger;
  • the Hospital Complex, established at the beginning of the 16th century, became one of the most important shelters for orphans, widows and elderly people in the city; it became famous for the chorus of putti that rivalled the one of the Pietà followed by the famous Antonio Vivaldi; in 1575 the construction of the annexed church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti began, designed by Palladio and embellished with works by the greatest artists of the time, including the Tiepolo and the Piazzetta.

Are you looking for other surprising and hidden places in Venice? Continue to navigate with us in the next insights!

  • Venice’s museum heritage: a history that spans centuries and cultures
  • St Mark’s Basilica: the imperious golden cathedral
  • Doge’s Palace: Venice had its political centre here
  • to say Theatre is to say Venice
  • The Canals: Venice, how to live a city on water
  • The Jewish ghetto of Venice, the first in Europe
  • The Churches of Venice: a museum when the museum didn’t exist yet!
  • gardens of Venice: the spectacle of botany behind an anonymous door