Of course, you must savor the incomparable ambiance of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Late afternoon is especially romantic as music wafts across the enormous square, courtesy of the tiny orchestras entertaining visitors as they enjoy an aperitif. A colonnaded walkway encloses the square on three sides, forming a protected path for window-shoppers at the beautiful boutiques and fancy cafés. The fourth side of the square is dominated by the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Cathedral), richly endowed with gold and mosaics. The church dates back to the 12th century when it was built to house the remains of St. Mark. Next to the church rises the 99-meter-tall campanile (bell tower) where in the 15th century priests were suspended in a cage to repent their sins. If you are in the plaza on the hour, watch the two Moors strike the hour with their huge bronze hammers as they have for 500 years. To the right of the basilica is the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), a sumptuous fantasy of pink and white marble—open now as a museum. The Palazzo Ducale faces on to the Piazzetta, a wide square opening onto the Grand Canal. The square’s nickname used to be the Piazzetta Il Broglio (Intrigue) because in days of yore, only nobles were allowed in the square between 10 am and noon, at which time the area buzzed with plots of intrigue. Adorning the center of the square are two granite columns, one topped by the Lion of St. Mark and the other by a statue of St. Theodore.