Venice - Bovolo House
The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, the home of the Contarini family, was built in 1499 by Giovanni Candi.
Despite the fact that Giovanni Candi was the original designer, it was said that Giorgio Spavento was the true designer of the famous spiral staircase located on the outside of the palace. The spiral staircase was not even build at the same time the rest of the building, but rather it was a later addition to the building. There are two different variations as to how the staircase came to be built. The first is that the Contarini family left for a vacation and simply gave the designer the instructions to "build me a staircase" and the other is that the staircase was built on the outside of the palace because at the time of construction towers were not permitted to be built in the city.
The name of the palace is derived from a few different places. Contarini is the family name and it is said that 8 different family members became Doge's of Venice. Bovolo means "snail shell" in Venetian dialect and the palace was given that name because it was said that the spiral staircase looked similar to the shell of a snail. The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is often referred to as simply "the snail house"
The palace takes after a few different types of architecture and design. There are Renaissance, Byzantine and Gothic styles incorporated throughout the palace, not only on the exterior of the building, but also in the interior. The building is mostly designed in the Early Renaissance style, however the staircase is considered to be more Gothic. From the exterior of the building the first thing that is noticed is the half arches located on the outside of the stair corridor. There are also exquisite columns that follow the salient line of the staircase, which are located in the stairwell that face toward the Rio di San Luca.
Around the base of the Palazzo which contain numerous well-heads or "vere di pozzo." Most of these date back from the 13th to 15th century and although they are much older than the actual palace building they were incorporated into its structure. At least one of the well-heads is said to contain the Contarini coat of arms and was added to the courtyard at a later date than 1499.
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