Has the Tower of Pisa stopped leaning? Well, no, that is still leaning and is in Tuscany;
this one you can see in the picture is somewhere in Venice, it is not even a tower and, most of all, it is standing straight. It is true, the two buildings really look alike; then how come one is well-known worldwide and one is not?
The answer is simple, Scala Contarini del Bovolo is still a hidden gem in Venice.
What is it though? Scala means “staircase”, Contarini is the name of the Venetian family who used to live in the palace next to which this beautiful scala was later built in the 15th century and Bovolo… this is complicated to explain… In Venetian dialect “bovolo” means something turning, twisting, like a snail, or an @. We call “bovoetti” what the French name “les escargots”, and this is how we cook them.
After being closed for restoration work for a few years, Scala del Bovolo is now open for visit. Although close to St. Mark’s Square, it is hidden enough to be off the beaten tracks (45°26’05.4″N 12°20’04.3″E). For these reasons, you will not have to wait in a line to get on top of it, especially if you go there shortly before or after lunchtime (it closes between 1 and 2 pm). Although a 7-euro ticket might sound pricey just to climb a staircase, the view from the top is priceless: from up there you will of course recognize Venice’s skyline, with St. Mark’s Bell Tower, St. Mark’s Church and Salute Church. What is more peculiar, though, will be Venetian rooftops with amazingly-shaped chimneys and old TV antennas, balconies where cats are lazily stretching their backs, furnished terraces for Venetians to throw parties, people’s apartments you might be lucky to see internally in the summertime, when it’s hot and have their flowered windows open. But look carefully for a hint of mystery: the ghost of a woman? Virgin Mary? A statue?
They say that the pleasure of traveling is not the final destination, but the journey itself. And this is an appropriate saying also while visiting Scala del Bovolo. Enjoy its 80 steps going up anti-clockwise one by one: the round columns and the arches they form, those elegant railings, the ceiling which follows the staircase steps shape, the white Istrian stone surrounding you while everything else is taking a different color, step after step.
Scala del Bovolo in a line? Impressive as you get to see it, enchanting while you’re climbing it, incredible when you reach its top.
Don’t forget to add it in your what-to-see-in-Venice list!
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