I loved gliding down the Nabeishi River and Yinzi Creek, underneath the Twin Bridges (dating to the turn of the 17th century; one has a round arch, the other, a square one), and strolling through the gardens of the sprawling Zhang House. A friend of mine stayed in one of the inns, and reported the evening quiet, with mist rising off the river, is as magical as anything you would find off the Gran Canal. Of course, it is all a bit fake, the result of heavy restoration and careful management. But then again, so are most historic attractions –that is what makes them so attractive. So, I was happy to float away among the carved wood and curving roofs to dream of China, as that visitor from Venice, Marco Polo, must have seen it.