"Narrow little streets branched into narrow little alleyways, and the further he went the darker and narrower they became. By stretching his arms out wide he could have simultaneously touched the opposing rows of houses, with their large silent, windows, behind which, he imagined, mysteriously intense Italian lives lay in slumber. The sense of intimacy made it feel almost an intrusion to have entered these streets at night.
What was the strange attraction, the peculiar ecstasy, that seized him among the back-alleys? Why did it feel like finally coming home? Perhaps a child dreams of such places, the child raised in a gardened cottage who fears the open plain. Perhaps there is an adolescent longing to live in such a closed world, where every square foot has a private significance, ten paces infringe a boundary, decades are spent around a shabby table, whole lives in an armchair... But this is speculation."
Antal Szerb (1901-1945), from Journey by Moonlight (translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix, Pushkin Press)
On Szerb and Journey, see: http://www.newrepublic.com/antal-szerbs-journey-moonlight-review