Whether it’s your first time to Venice or your tenth, it’s hard not to start with a visit to Saint Mark’s Square—for centuries the heart of the floating city. The square is filled with visual associations of Mark the Evangelist, whose birthplace was the north African city of Alexandria. The Venetians pirated the saint’s body in 827 CE, cleverly hiding it in a basket of pork to avert Muslim custom officials. Under Saint Mark’s protection they braved the stormy seas back to Venice and laid his body to rest at the site of the present Basilica. Mark’s remains at once became a major attraction for Christian pilgrims and the city’s sacred benefactor.