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 its share of indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like London's cakes, Lost Florence and Venice's cats.

I've also been writing trip reports as a service to travellers who share my enthusiasm for my cities, as well as cats, cakes, ice cream and art.

You'll find them on the handy Trips Menu.

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Blimey now there's another reviewable, which looked like a tempting prospect even before I discovered that it's set in Florence - In Love and War
by Alex Preston. And I've just discovered The Monster of Florence, a 1986 Italian filming of the story of the famous (and somewhat over-exposed) serial killer, but it does not come any higher than politely recommended. There's been talk of a Hollywood version of journalists Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi's investigations for a while, with George Clooney said to have signed up to play Preston in 2011, but no news since then. Maybe the serial killer thing has run its course.

After a slow beginning to the year June and July have seen a fair old flurry of reviewables. Also I've been clearing the decks a bit for the rush of new classy fiction I mentioned below. But the deck-clearing hasn't extended to The Serpent of Venice, the humourous novel featuring the sexually deviant monkey called Jeff. I started it but it disappointingly did not appeal. It had a flavour of the Terry Pratchetts about it, but this flavour was strongly overpowered by the excessive and blokeish bandying of words like fuck and twat at too many opportunities. Some words need rationing, I think, to remain effective.

Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) has been both a highlight in my recent film-watching and an inspiration for me to broaden my listening by following up the new classical composers featured on its fine soundtrack. I even liked his previous film This Must Be the Place, the one where Sean Penn looks like Robert Smith from The Cure and plays a rock star in search of something or other. So you can imagine my joy at learning that he's been filming his new one in Venice. Youth tells the story of two old geezers Fred and Mick (played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel) one a director and the other a conductor, who decide to go on a holiday together. It supposedly deals with Sorrentino's trademark concerns - ageing, art and desire. Rachel Weisz and Jane Fonda are also in it, and it's due to be released in the spring of 2015.

Fans of Christobel Kent's always-involving Sandro Cellini novels, set in Florence, will be pleased to know that there's a new one, the fifth, called The Killing Room out next Thursday. It was due out tomorrow but has been put back a week. And in the UK the Kindle version is only 2.48!

News of some new German Brunetti TV episodes. Episode 20, called Reiches Erbe, presumably Drawing Conclusions, was broadcast in Germany on the 1st of April. And news has just reached me of the filming of the next two episodes, some of it at the Ca' Zenobio. My correspondent also shocks me with the fact that Uwe Kockisch, the actor who plays Brunetti, has just turned 70. The imdb confirms this, but I find it very hard to believe.

The phrase 'So many books, so little time' is a not underused one and is one of the least sympathy-generating complaints in the modern world, I'd suggest. However, I have returned from Bruges with two books set there to add to my pile, The Master of Bruges by Terence Morgan, which is all about Memling, and Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach, a strange and ripe old thing, by all accounts. Then there are the Venice/Florence-set reviewables mentioned below, and I've just discovered something called The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore which is that rare thing - a humourous novel set in Venice, and it even features a character called Jeff, who is a sexually deviant monkey. And looking forward to August and September when David Mitchell, Sarah Waters and Haruki Murakami, three of my favourite authors, have new novels out, the last one having been looked forward to most impatiently since its Japanese publication in April 2013. So it's looking like starting on la recherche... and rereading War and Peace might have to wait a bit longer.

more news here

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
Heather Redding  Stealing Venice
Antonia Hodgson The Devil in the Marshalsea London
Philip Kazan Appetite Florence
Marco Vichi Death in 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
August 2013
Tinney Sue Heath A Thing Done Florence
Christopher Fowler Full Dark House
(Bryant & May Book 1)
The Redhead (Die Rote) Venice films
Miranda Miller The Fairy Visions of Richard Dadd London
Ben Aaronovitch Broken Homes
July 2013
MacDonald Harris Pandora's Galley
Jonathan Holt The Abomination: Carnivia Book One Venice
Chloe Aridjis Asunder London
Richard Russo Nate in Venice
June 2013
Michelle Lovric The Fate in the Box Venice
Essie Fox Elijah's Mermaid London
Wu Ming Altai Venice
Penguin Underground Lines:
Twelve Stories from Twelve Authors
Victor Canning Venetian bird Venice

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Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2014