This is not a site about imaginary cities, it's a site about how our reading affects our ideas of real cities and then mixes with
our memories to create our mental maps. We all have
places we love, and like to read novels and watch
films about them. I love London, Venice, and
 Florence and so I made this site, dealing
 with all sorts of stories set in
these three cities.

Each city now has a few indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like Venice's cats, London's cakes, and Lost Florence.
I've also been writing trip reports as a service to travellers
who share my enthusiasm for cakes, ice cream and art.
You'll find them listed on the handy
Trips Menu.

Click here to send me an e-mail
All suggestions and flattery gratefully received.


In case you're curious, this is
Me and my other sites are...

The Churches of Venice  
The Churches of Florence  

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click on the word NEWS
above for more news (with photos!)

click on the titles to read all about them

Fans of Christobel Kent's Sandro Cellini series of crime novels will be pleased to learn that she plans to write a 6th. That she plans to make this the last and that her new novel The Crooked House, out on the 5th of January 2015, is not set in Florence at all and has a danker and more English setting might be the cause of less immediate pleasure.

Ciao, Carpaccio!
is a new book by Jan Morris about the Venetian painter and I hope to be reviewing soon. She's saying that it will be her last. The slim and well illustrated volume is published by Pallas Athene, a publishing house I'd hitherto not been very aware of but which has some tasty books on its list, some of which seem up this website's street, as it were. They seem to be riding the current Effie and Ruskin wave, for example, with a new edition of the Effie Letters (which I reviewed in a previous edition here) and a new book about the whole affair called Marriage of Inconvenience, which seems to be refreshingly less anti-Ruskin than usual.

Been home a couple of days now. The rib pain is no trouble as long as I don't breath, bend down, lift anything, get into bed, get out of bed, feed the cats...and as for coughing or sneezing! Actually the painkillers are working a treat, and the arm grazes are looking much less vivid. The moral of this story - look where you're putting your feet in major European art centres. No more trips now, until Mantua & Ferrara in March and Assisi etc. in April.

Blimey, he's never home!
Jeff in Florence


Reading the novella by Somerset Maugham I've just reviewed set me to pondering the relative numbers of novels set in Florence and Venice written by big-name 'literary' authors. Venice clocks up 21: Balzac, Brodkey, Wilkie Collins, Coover, D'Annunzio, DuMaurier, Geoff Dyer, L.P. Hartley, Patricia Highsmith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan,
Thomas Mann, Anthony Powell, Proust, Rolfe, Lisa St Aubin de Terán, George Sand, Schiller, Vikram Seth, Muriel Spark, and Barry Unsworth. But Florence also manages a reputable 8, from a much shorter list: Boccaccio, Congreve, Dante, George Eliot, E.M.Forster, W. Somerset Maugham, Pratolini, and Rushdie. (Henry James, Michael Dibdin, and Sarah Dunant are not counted as the have novels set in both cities.) And yes I know that my choice is partial and full of value judgements!

 I just did one of my periodic searches on Amazon for new Florence- and Venice-set fiction and there's really nothing exciting on the horizon. A few more books giving the impression that a good majority of visitors to these cities are women with boring names looking to be tied up and spanked by tall dark men with seductive scowls and aristocratic backgrounds, but not much else. Except it seems that Michelle Lovric has another book for Y.A.s set in Venice out next August, called The Hotel of What You Want. But confusingly it already has almost twenty review quotes up. Presumably they are for her previous books, but it doesn't say so and the quotes cunningly contain no mention of events or characters. Very odd.

Jeff in Verona


more news here

ber 2014
Jan Morris Ciao, Carpaccio!  Venice
October 2014
W. Somerset Maugham Up at the villa Florence
Venice films
David Nicholls Us
Helen Cox Fading Ads of London
September 2014
Ravaged: Art and Culture in Times of Conflict
August 2014
Anthony Powell Temporary Kings Venice
Lauro Martines An Italian Renaissance Sextet:
Six Tales in Historical Context
Architectural Guide - Venice Buildings and Projects After 1950
Alex Preston In Love and War
July 2014
The Image of Venice: Fialetti's View & Sir Henry Wotton Venice
Georges Rodenbach Bruges-la-Morte
Christobel Kent The Killing Room
Laura Morelli The Gondola Maker
Graham McKenzie A Florentine Influence Florence
Terence Morgan The Master of Bruges
June 2014
Giulia Foscari Elements of Venice Venice
Heather Redding  Stealing Venice
Antonia Hodgson The Devil in the Marshalsea London
Philip Kazan Appetite Florence
Marco Vichi Death in Florence Florence
La Venexiana Venice films
Donna Leon By its Cover Venice
March 2014
Richard Skinner The Mirror Venice
February 2014
Doctor Who - The Vampires of Venice Venice TV
January 2014
Thomas Coryate Most Glorious & Peerless Venice
Donna Leon My Venice and other essays
December 2013
Light in the Piazza Florence films
Tony Ballantyne Dream London London
Lucy Hughes-Hallett The Pike Venice
McCann Ace, King, Knave London
November 2013
Elizabeth Spencer The Light in the Piazza Florence
Roberta Rich The Harem Midwife Related works
Christopher Jones White Phantom City Venice
September 2013
Tom Brown Strange Air London
Venetian bird Venice films
Ellis Peters Holiday with Violence Venice


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Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2014