Contarini Del Bovolo Stairs represent the inevitable tourist attraction of Venice due to the unique display of the splendor of Venetian architecture. This building is actually a cylindrical shaped tower; it is made of bricks and stone; it is 26 meters high; with a diameter of 4.7 meters. What captures our imagination are the decorations on the tower that represent late Gothicism, i.e. the transition from Gothic period to Renaissance.
In the Venetian dialect, the word "Bolovo" means snail, and the tower gained this name because of its characteristic form and the large number of lodges that overlap each other on several floors. The conspicuous towers were constructed at the end of the fifteenth century which was courtesy of Peter Contarini. Peter was a member of the distinguished Venetian family from which , Andrea Contarini, one Venetian doge originated. Although the Contarini family was rather well off, the owners of the tower were not always rich and prominent people of Venice. Once the tower was owned by Arnaux Marseille, called "Maltese," an adventurer and solitary man, who made a small guesthouse of the tower, called Locanda della Scala. Maltese is considered to have been an inspiration for the celebrity character of Hugo Pratt's comics.
Looking at the tower and its position, one could naively think that it had no significant role in Venice, considering that it had no access to the Great Channel. Nevertheless, the importance of its position was reflected in the fact that it was at the same distance from the Rialto Bridge (the former economic center of Venice) and St. Mark's Square (center of political power of Venice).
If visitors might like to pay closer attention, they are bound to notice that the tower actually has two facades, one that overlooks the square of St. Mark and the other, the main facade, which looks onto the riverside of St. Luke. On the first facade, there are authentic Gothic features, flamboyant decorations that characterize floral motifs and glimmering colors whilst the main facade completely preserved its late Gothic appearances.
In 1849, the tower became the property of fellowship of the poor of Saint Luke, who helped those who needed existential assistance within the parish. Since then, the purpose of the tower has been strictly linked to helping those in need and their education. The current owner and beneficiary, together with the municipality of Venice, is the institution I.R.E. whose purpose is to help those in need.
A German astronomer Tempel discovered the Comet C / 1859 through a telescope from the top of this tower.
Ticket prices for the Contarini Del Bovolo Stairs in Venice
The ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing of the museum.
Ticket price: 7 €.
Reduced ticket price: € 6 - for younger than 26 years of age, for those older than 65 years of age.
Admission free for children up to 12 years old authorized tourist guides, residents of Venice and employees of I.R.E.
Working hours of the Contarini Del Bovolo Stairs in Venice
Every day from 10:00h to 18:00h.
Closed on: 1 January, 15 August, 1 November, 25 and 26 December.