The Scala Contarini del Bovolo (also called Palazzo Contarini Minelli dal Bovolo) is a small palace in Venice. It is hidden away in an obscure little alley known as the Calle della Vida, near the Campo Manin, and was the palace of the Contarini family.
The original structure was designed by Giovanni Candi in 1499. The main attraction of this palace is an elegant spiral staircase with a plethora of arches. The family hired a second architect, Giorgio Spavento, to add the staircase to the original structure. The spiral is often compared to a snail’s shell (bovolo) and hence the palace’s name, “snail house”.
There are two small courtyards and several wellheads at the base of the tower. Many of the wellheads belong to previous structures and are far older than the palace although one bears the Contarini family coat-of-arms and was probably added at the time of the palace’s construction.
Architectural elements of the first Renaissance are merged with the building techniques of the Gothic-Byzantine period, producing a harmony of forms, with a typical Venetian character, in a monument that is unique. From the dome of the belvedere it is possible to get a splendid and unusual panoramic view of Venice: the roofs, the bell towers, the domes of Saint Mark.
Nowadays the palazzo is under the custodianship of the Association of St Apollonia.
Scala Contarini del BovoloSan Marco 4299, Venice
Tel. +39 041 270 2464
Fax +39 041 270 2458