La Fenice-Palazzo Contrarini del Bovolo

Venice trip: La Fenice-Palazzo Contrarini del Bovolo, Castello-Venice’s First Cathedral

Venice is a city made up of many small islands containing must see attractions that are often missed. La Fenice, Castello, Dorsoduro and Cannaregio are just a few of the regions of the city that can be explored, each containing hidden treasures which add new dimensions to a visit to Venice.

La Fenice-Palazzo Contrarini del Bovolo

Built in the 15th century, this small palace belonged to the Contrarini family, a Venetian aristocratic clan known for their scholars and several Doges. Its defining feature is an external staircase which spirals upwards like a snail’s shell – the bovolo from which the palazzo derives its name.

The palazzo can be found in a small courtyard off Corte Contrarini del Bovolo, part of the labyrinth of small alleyways of the La Fenice or theatre district just off St Marks Square. It is signposted from the Campo Manin.

Castello-Venice’s First Cathedral

The basilica San Marco is Venice’s cathedral and one of her premier tourist attractions. Few visitors are aware that up until 1807, her cathedral lay elsewhere.

The small island of San Pietro di Castello was the original cathedral site. Reached via the Arsenale vaporetto stop, it was also one of Venice’s earliest settled islands and former site of its fortress.

The former cathedral is now known as the church of San Pietro di Castello. Founded in the 7th century AD, the current church, with its quirky, freestanding and tilted campanile dates from the 16th century.

A short walk from San Pietro di Castello is the public gardens of Venice. The biennale pavilions are located here, the venue for Venice’s biannual exhibitions of contemporary and avante garde art which are held in the summer months of odd numbered years.