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Hidden in a small courtyard at the end of a narrow "calle" near Campo Manin is the spiral staircase 'Scala Contarini del Bovolo'. This is an extraordinary example of Venetian architecture in transition: leaving the realms of the gothic to embrace renaissance style.

The spiral staircase is believed to be the work of Giovanni Candi, employed by Pietro Contarini to make a unique addition to his late-gothic palazzo, S. Paternian. Contarini wished to enhance the palazzo's internal facade which overlooks a small courtyard that was formerly protected by high walls.

A series of overlapping arches link the different levels as the staircase winds upwards to form a cylindrical tower. Its Venetian name of "Bovolo" refers to the spiral shell of a small local edible snail.

You can scale the staircase and from the top, can savour a truly splendid view of Venice: rooftops, bell towers, the dome of St Mark's and more.

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