The Snail's Staircase

The Palazzo Contarini and the Scala del Bovolo, Venice

If you look over the rooftops of Venice from a high vantage point, such as the bell tower of St Mark's, you will see a curious round brick tower decorated with a series of white arches.

Inside the tower is the staircase of the late-Gothic Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. Although external staircases were the norm in Venetian palazzi of the 14th and 15th centuries, this staircase stood out from the crowd in terms of its size and shape.

To distinguish it from the many other palaces in the city belonging to the Contarini family, this palace was named 'del Bovolo', from the Venetian word for snail.

The staircase is connected to the main structure of the palazzo by a delightful side addition made up of four loggias. The design is attributed to Giovanni Candi, who died in 1506.  

The Palazzo Contarini and the Scala del Bovolo, Venice