Zen looked down, staring at the pitted black metal of the railing.  It was the French who had added these refinements when they put an end tot he Republic’s thousand-year independence.  Until then the city’s bridges had been mere arcs of stone, to all appearances as weightless and insubstantial as their reflections, across which the inhabitants went nimbly about their business.  Not only were guard-rails or balustrades unnecessary for a people who spent half their life in boats, but they were, as Silvio Morosini had once remarked, ‘an insult to the water’.

Michael Dibdin – Dead Lagoon



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