This site is all about how stories add spice to our ideas and feelings about the cities we love. My favourites have long been London, Venice, and Florence and so I made this site, where I tell of all sorts of tales set in these three cities. Each city 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 casting my net wider of late and posting reports on my trips to other European cities as a service to travellers who share my enthusiasm for art, cakes, cats, and ice cream. Fiction features here too. You'll find them listed in the handy
Trips Menu

To search within this site using Google, enter your search terms
into the box as usual and then type in

In case you're curious, this is Me

My other sites are...
The Churches of Venice

The Churches of Florence

These sites also have their own Facebook page...
The Friends of Fictional Cities
and the Churches of Venice and Florence

Click on the link and Like the page for regular updates.

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


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

click on the titles to read all about them

Searching for something fresh in the fiction line to read on my upcoming trip to Florence (and Arezzo) I'm not getting any anticipatory frissons, I have to admit. There's a new Philip Kazan, called The Phoenix of Florence - we like him but it's not published until next February. Fiction set in Florence featuring Leonardo is far from rare, as are novels where conspiracies are uncovered, crimes committed and members of the Medici family murdered. Also Florence and feminism and female artists is a definite thing. So a series that mixes up all of this stuff, called the Da Vinci's Disciples series, should be no surprise. It features a team of female painters secretly trained by Leonardo and the books look to be dark and tasty, but it takes a lot to make me forgive the making of the heinous Dan Brown mistake of using Da Vinci as a surname, as regular readers will know. There is a new Marco Vichi out while I'm in Florence, but I haven't read his previous one yet. So maybe I will.

Leeds and York

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, with the temperature nudging 30 in London, nothing warms the cockles of a webmaster like the discovery that his site has been cited and linked to on the Tate Gallery's website and on another page on the same site The Churches of Venice is cited to contradict the previous misidentification of a doorway!


In Venice fiction news: an email arrives from Christopher Jones, the author of White Phantom City which I read and liked a while back. He's been re-writing it and tightening it up, it seems, and it has just been republished as The Breath of the Zephyr. If you missed it first time round...


I'm just back from a week in Bologna, and my trip report will follow.
But while I was away news broke that John Julius Norwich had died - a sad day for fans of Venice and for the readers and lovers of his many special books on his favourite city. He revealed his innermost passions to this very website on this page.


As the temperature creeps up and the rain falls it seems that Spring is upon us, with all the yellow flowers and forward-looking that the season demands. Me, I've got a week-long Summer School (I know!) at the Courtauld next week on the Byzantine influence on Italian art, followed by a Spring-term course at the V&A on illuminated manuscripts. Trips booked for the next six months are to Bologna, Nancy, Leeds & York and Arezzo. I hope that you've got good stuff to look forward to too.


 During a conversation on my recent trip to Siena the tour manager revealed that she had been a pupil of Donna Leon during the latter's early career as a teacher, and that Donna L. now lives in Switzerland. This last fact is no secret, but it does explain the news that from the next instalment the action of the Brunetti novels is moving to Geneva. Following the unpleasantness at the end of The Temptation of Forgiveness Brunetti and the family are moved for their own safety, it seems. Your guess is as good as mine as to the crimes he might investigate. Antique cuckoo clock forgeries? Chocolate counterfeiting? The Swiss banks hanging onto Nazi gold? We'll see, next April.

more news here

August 2018
Marco Vichi Death in the Tuscan Hills

June & July 2018
Leeds and York Trips
Nancy Trips

April & May 2018

Claudia Caramanna et al
Paintings from Murano by Paolo Veronese
Tristan Palmgren Quietus Florence

March 2018
Donna Leon The Temptation of Forgiveness Venice
Philip Gwynne Jones Vengeance in Venice
Roberto Tiraboschi The Eye Stone Venice
Siena Trips

February 2018
Gregory Dowling The Four Horsemen Venice
Imogen Hermes Gowar The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock London
Lincoln Short trips

November & December 2017
Vienna Trips
Norwich Short trips
Glenn Haybittle The Way Back to Florence
Giovanni Boccaccio The Decameron Florence

September & October 2017
Magdalen Nabb Death of a Dutchman Florence
Padua & Verona Trips
David Adams Cleveland Time's Betrayal Venice

August 2017
Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks Sansovino's Venice
Dublin Trips

June & July 2017
Diana Gisolfi Paolo Veronese and the
Practice of Painting in Late Renaissance Venice

Judith Mackrell The Unfinished Palazzo Venice
Richard Russo Trajectory Venice

May 2017
Timothy Williams The Second Day of the Renaissance
(Commissario Trotti Book 6)
Related Works
Urbino Trips
Roberta Rich A Trial in Venice Venice


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2018
Twenty years? Blimey!