“Well, but I have already seen everything in Venice, nothing could be much interesting anymore”. I reckon I have recently heard this expression like thousands times. Well, nothing could be more wrong!
If you want to stroll around to discover some less known Venetian architecture, I suggest you have a look at the Contarini del Bovolo staircase, a little treasure in Venice that not many people know about.
This spectacular piece of architecture is enclosed within a little courtyard, along a really narrow alley coming from the side of Campo Manin. It is a synthesis of three different architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Venetian-Byzantine, twisting and turning for 113 steps. In fact, ‘Bovolo’ is the Venetian nickname for ‘snail shell’.
How did this piece of architecture come to life? As the name itself suggests, the staircase was commissioned by Pietro Contarini around the end of the XV century in order to embellish the facade of the Palazzo di San Paternian, owned by the illustrious Venetian family. What is even more bizarre? The realisation of this architectural artwork was not meant to serve a practical function, instead it was meant as a symbol of prestige with the purpose of heightening the popularity of the family.
Long story short, it is thanks to this continuous challenging among the various families that we have been able to climb up the stairs of this magnificent tower for more than 500 years and enjoy a visit of Venice out of the blue.
Should you be interested, a single special ticket allows you to visit both the Bovolo tower and the Crociferi oratory just next to it. It is definitely worth popping by if you yearn for discovering less crowded places and Venice’s unexplored jewels.
Do not tell me I did not warn you!